– 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. I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as noted in the blog post and installed the 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

The initial blue haze style lighting was then adjusted. 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 and a free to use “NASA Astronaut EVA” outfit (under category Clothing -> Accessories -> Miscellaneous) is now available on the live Sine Space 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
2016-11-18-Sine-Space-Black-Rock-Supercar-3 2016-11-18-Sine-Space-Black-Rock-Supercar-2

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
2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-3 2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-4
2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-7 2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-8

Posted in Gerry Anderson, Supercar, Virtual World | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on – Gerry Anderson Regions

Sinespace – 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, the Space Station from the movie 2001, 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. Update: available now).

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 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

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

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)

360 Snapshot Viewer 5.1.* (Updated June 2017)

In June 2017 revisions to the 360 Snapshot Project Viewer were released as version 5.1.*: on 19-Jun-2017 and on 29-Jun-2017. The 360 degree snapshots created by this version were of the “pano” style used by many web sites rather than the multi-image “zip” style of the previous 4.1.* versions.

The early development versions had some metadata issues which could be resolved in various ways:

  • For Flickr, the uploaded image had to have a tag of “equirectangular” added manually.
  • For Oculus 360 Photos app use the image had to have its suffix altered from the default .jpeg to .jpg.
  • Second Life JIRA BUG-100923
Posted in 3D, Second Life, Virtual World | Tagged , , , , | 4 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.


A later development is Outworldz DreamGrid which provided a Robust grid based setup with Hypergrid capabilities and lots of well configures modules.

A presentation on Outworldz DreamGrid given at the OpenSimulator Community Conference 2018 is available at

Downloads of the latest version and updater for installed versions is at

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

Posted in AI, Internet | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vue Landmarks Restored in Second Life


On the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) regions in Second Life, some landmark buildings that were previously on the “Edinburgh University” region have been restored in world so that they appear in the distance when meetings are held at “The Venue@Vue” and in other Vue locations.

2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-1 2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-2
2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-3 2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-4
2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-6 2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-8
2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-9 2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-10
2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-Night-1 2016-09-23-SL-Vue-Forum-Night-2

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Pottermore – Harry Potter Online Experiences


Back in 2012, J.K.Rowling introduced Pottermore. See this blog post for some information from that time. A new version of the web site became available in 2017, including further experiences and games. It was possible to connect a new login to a previous account, “sorted” Hogwarts House and the wand that selected you.


You can then answer some questions to discover your “Patronus” and get sorted into your North American “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”.


And in “Real” Life…

Ollivander’s wand of ivy wood chose me – satisfyingly swishy…


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Supercar in Blender

This blog post is a resource area for a project to create good 3D models of Gerry Anderson’s Supercar and Black Rock Laboratory in Blender that can be used for a range of new applications in virtual worlds, flight simulators, etc. Applications in which the original Mick Imrie/Austin Tate 3D models, originated in Cinema3D and converted to many other forms, are too detailed or have modelling issues (such as flipped normal).

A number of people have already created Blender conversions or adaptations of our Supercar models for 3D modellers, virtual worlds (Second Life, OpenSimulator, High Fidelity, Unity3D, etc.) or for Flight Simulators (Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, etc.) and Space Simulators (Orbiter and Celestia).



Chris Coggon X-Plane Black Rock Lab

Using Chris Coggon’s X-Plane .obj model from 2011 (link here) reimported back into Blender 2.49b with XPlane2Blender Python tools for import/export. Then save via Blender to FBX for imort testing into Unity3D. To use the X-Plane BRL Lab.obj file open it in a text editor. Near the top of the file, make sure that Lab.png and Lab_LIT.png are named as the textures. Make sure these files are in the same directory as the Lab.obj. Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the file and remove this:

TRIS    159081 12

2016-09-23-CC-X-Plane-Model-to-Blender-to-FBX-to-Unity-Tests-1 2016-09-23-CC-X-Plane-Model-to-Blender-to-FBX-to-Unity-Tests-2

  • X-Plane® Scenery Tools –
  • X-Plane® Scenery – Old Tools – for Microsoft Flight Simulator and Blender Conversions. Includes tools to IMPORT X-Plane .obj format files back into Blender 2.4x.
    • Only for versions Blender 2.4x up to 2.5 and 2.6 (not the most recent 2.7x versions). Use the “Installer” .exe version to set up the environment for auto install of scripts, as noted below.
    • Needs Python 2.6 to be installed.
    • Download XPlane2Blender, unzip and run the install.cmd script to copy the X-Plan to Blender scripts into the appropriate place.

Import test of Chris Coggon X-Plan .obj files for BRL into Blender 2.49b with XPlane2Blender python scripts to add X-Plan .obj/.acf import and export options…


There are issues importing Lab.obj with texture import (ERROR: Cannot read cockpit panel texture), even when placing these directly into the same directory as the .obj files (or trying name changes to remove spaces or .jpg format in the .obj and texture files).

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Ferd’s NPC Dog Avatar for OpenSim

NPC-DogFred Beckhusen (aka “@Ferd_Frederix” of has provided many fine open source contributions in OpenSim, including a range of animated non-player characters (NPCs). One is a dog called “Cindy”, which can be used as an NPC or avatar. It is a mesh dog rigged for Opensim using the standard “Avastar” skeleton. Fred indicates that there is no particular need for the new Second Life “Bento” enhanced non-human armature when only creating 4-legged animals. Her name is “Cindy” and she is licensed as CC-0, so anyone can use it for anything.

The easy way to get Cindy is via an OpenSim Inventory Archive File (IAR) at if you have the ability to load that for your avatar on some grid. Or you can pick up a kit at hop:// – which can be reached by hypergrid to then click the sign that shows the “Virunga” region. You can also try to teleport from your hypergrid enabled home grid with the full “hop” URL above in suitable viewers, such as Firestorm. The box is in the middle of the village at Ruhengeri, lower left corner, next to the horse. A notecard in the kit explains how to activate the NPC which involves wearing the Cindy Avatar body, an animated tail shape and a full transparency “alpha” layer to hide the usual avatar. This requires the sim and server be set to allow Non-Player Characters (NPC). See for details.


The avatar version in the image above has an added “RUGGED AO” with a notecard in it to trigger some of the animations (for Stand, Walk and Sit) provided in the control “dog bowl”.

Notes from Fred on using Cindy (13-Sep-2016 to Project MOSES Group)

“Cindy” has several features: She comes in a dog “water bowl”. Click it to control her. She can walk run around, Stand, Lay, Crawl and most importantly, pee on things. Cindy is set to wander and occasionally paw at the nearest avatar.

Since she is a NPC, you probably have to first become a dog and then click the dog bowl and select “Appearance”, once. There are instructions on how to make her in the box. This is because NPCs’ require moving of all the assets (which are really just UUIDs in a notecard), and different versions of the hypergrid do not always gather all the necessary assets.

You could also wear it and be a dog. Just add the animations to the Firestorm AO, if you need really precise handling for scenarios. These are all in the water bowl.

You can edit the Script to have her follow a particular avatar. There are several lines of code that look like this:

llSensorRepeat("", NULL_KEY, AGENT_BY_LEGACY_NAME,..............

These can be modified to say


Then it will ONLY follow SOMEBODYS NAME. And there are several sensors, but you can search for them.

Setup for Use on Another Grid – Step by Step

If you take this box to another grid, it must be remade with a new NPC Appearance notecard.

IMPORTANT! If you have not yet saved your current avatar outfit, go to Edit Appearance and save your outfit! Give it an outfit name that you can find it with, later.

  1. Wear (say) the default skin, eyes and hair… they will be hidden anyway by the “All Alpha” which renders all parts of the standard avatar transparent.
  2. Wear the All Alpha
  3. Wear the Cindy Dog Shape
  4. Wear the Cindy Dog Avatar
  5. Wear the Cindy Dog Waggy Tail
  6. Check that you look like a dog. Your front legs will cross inwards. You can correct this by playing the animation “Stand”, which is included in the box. This is just an ordinary T-pose.
  7. IMPORTANT!! Take everything else off. Take off ALL Scripts. Take off your AO.
  8. Go to “Avatar Appearance” in your viewer and click the “Wearing” tab, and make sure you are wearing just the basic body parts including the Cindy Dog Shape, along with the Cindy Dog Avatar, Cindy Dog Tail, and the All Alpha.
  9. Save this as a new outfit. Name it something like “Cindy Dog Avatar’.
  10. IMPORTANT!! Right click and wear your original Outfit. This takes off the Dog, which saves it to your server. You will re-appear as you were, but (in earlier versions of several viewers) may be very distorted. THIS IS NORMAL – DO NOT PANIC!. This issue is fixed in the latest viewers such as Firestorm.
  11. Re-wear your Cindy Dog Appearance
  12. Rez the ‘Dog-Bowl “Cindy”‘ and touch it. A Menu appears
  13. Click “Appearance”. The dog should appear and come to you. To restore your appearance, replace your outfit with the saved outfit. You will re-appear as you were, but as noted before you may appear distorted, an issue which is fixed in the latest viewers such as Firestorm.
  14. If your avatar is distorted, log out and log back in again. You should now be back to your original look, and will be greeted by your new pet!

Menu Controlling the NPC (and setting the tail on an avatar)

You can control the dog with the menu by clicking on the dog bowl…

Rez: Start the dog
Remove: Removes the dog
Appearance: Records the Dog appearance
Wander:  Starts the dog moving
Stand: Stops the dog
Bark: clicking causes a bark
Pee: Dog stops and lifts a leg.  You must click Wander to begin walking again
Claw: Claws in the air.  You must click Wander to begin walking again
Lay: Lays down.  You must click Wander to begin walking again
TailWag: starts the tail wagging
TailDown: puts his tail between her legs
TailUp: raises the tail
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Second Life Starter Avatars

Second Life provides a wide selection of avatars to select from when you first join, and these are all available in the Avatar Picker tool or the Inventory “Library” to pick later. Its also possible to mix and match to make your own look.





New advanced mesh avatars with a low Avatar Rendering Complexity were released on 1st September 2016… See

2016-SL-Avatars-Selection-Classic 2016-SL-Avatars-Selection-Vampires

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Engage – Educational VR Platform

EngageImmersive VR Education in Ireland, who have produced the Apollo 11 VR Experience, have created a platform for multiple users to meet and share experiences in a range of environments in VR via their avatars.

Engage works with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive at present. Download from Steam via For use with the Oculus Rift launch the program (e.g. from the desktop icon) without first starting Steam or Steam VR for it to work correctly. More details and a download link are at:

2016-08-30-Engage-Avatar 2016-08-30-Engage-Controls

There are a range of VR experiences to demonstrate the platform, including a Mars Curiosity rover experience.

2016-08-30-Engage-Demos 2016-08-30-Engage-Mars-1
2016-08-30-Engage-Mars-2 2016-08-30-Engage-Mars-3

The meeting environments can be classroom or meeting room style, as well as in museum areas and fun environments such as underwater and in space.

2016-08-30-Engage-LT-1 2016-08-30-Engage-LT-22016-08-30-Engage-Titanic-12016-08-30-Engage-Titanic-2

Interactive lessons with multiple users in various environments are also possible, including active whiteboards, calculators and interactive objects…

2016-09-01-Engage-Ballistics-Lesson-1 2016-09-01-Engage-Ballistics-Lesson-2
2016-09-01-Engage-Skeleton-Lesson-1 2016-09-01-Engage-Skeleton-Lesson-2

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Scuba Dive in Second Life


Scuba diving is a popular virtual sport in Second Life… and scuba diving has been available on the Virtual University of Edinburgh facilities in Second Life from the very earliest days of the Vue regions (back from 2006). See this blog post for some early images.

An up-to-date free set of Scuba Gear created by “SamBivalent Spork” in Second Life is available at the Diver Alert Network (DAN)…

2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Screen-2 2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Screen-1
2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Ai 2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Be
2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Ai-and-Dolphin 2016-08-22-SL-Scuba-Ai-at-Wreck

Scuba Dive Tour HUD

Pick up a copy of the (free) “DAN Branded Gear” also and try out the dive tour HUD… take care in the caves, and remember to follow the safety trail…


Scuba Dive in VR

Using the CtrlAltStudio viewer and the Oculus Rift, try a dive in virtual reality…


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Skydive in Second Life

When I first joined Second Life in 2006, I used a skydive setup built by “Cubey Terra” (Steve Cubey Cavers) to demonstrate some of the features of Second Life to colleagues and friends. Some images from those early days are here…

2009-08-20-Skydive-1 2009-08-20-Skydive-9b
2009-08-24-vatar-skydive-1 2009-08-24-vatar-skydive-2

VATAR – Virtual Avatar Training and Recreation

The Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) group ran a series of sessions entitled “VATAR”. The Virtual Avatar Training and Recreation programme (VATAR) was a regular opportunity to get together in Second Life and meet others involved using virtual world for education. There were regular sessions where people could meet others from across the community who were involved in virtual worlds and discuss what they were doing, ask for hints and tips and learn new skills.

VATAR helped users gain experience with their avatar in fun sessions:

These sessions helped new users gain basic virtual world skills like:

  • Get used to their avatar
  • Text chat to others
  • Open boxes and get inventory
  • Wear attachments
  • Use active objects

And rather more serious tutorials were used to help people get the most out of attending events in the virtual world:

  • Avatar Appearance
  • Building and Texturing
  • Inventory Management
  • Voice/VoIP

Skydive at Abbots Airfield in Second Life

You can go to at Abbots Airfield in Second Life to try out Skydiving. A free simple chute is available near the Skypod launch system. And sports chutes can be bought nearby.

2016-08-22-SL-Skydive-1 2016-08-22-SL-Skydive-2

Skydive in VR

Using the CtrlAltStudio viewer and the Oculus Rift, it is rather easier to look down as you approach the landing spot while steering the more recent “Starburst 1.1.1” chute from Cubey Terra…

2016-08-22-SL-Skydive-VR-1 2016-08-22-SL-Skydive-VR-2

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Great Auk

Great Auk and Egg - Kelvingrove, Glasgow. Wikipedia Commons

Great Auk and Egg – Kelvingrove, Glasgow. Wikipedia Commons

The Great Auk was a flightless black and white bird a bit like a large Razorbill. The Great Auk inhabited the rocky coasts and islands of the North Atlantic along the East coast of the USA, Scotland, Shetland and Ireland to Greenland and Iceland, almost to the Arctic Circle. It was driven to extinction due to hunting in the 19th century. There are specimens of the bird and its eggs in many museums… including Kelvingrove in Glasgow and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.


To the left is the cover of a superb book by Errol Fuller entitled The “Great Auk” which gives much detail on the species.

One of the excellent images in the book is an oil painting by Errol Fuller himself entitled “A Last Stand” [from] …


Jan Thornhill - Tragic Tale of the Great Auk - CoverThe Tragic Tale of the Great Auk
Jan Thornhill

Children’s book author and illustrator produced a wonderful book with artwork of the Great Auk and its demise. Available, for example, at Amazon.

An article on Jan Thornhill’s digital creation of the paintings is here.

Some Literature

An ‛Aukward’ Tale: A Genetic Approach to Discover the Whereabouts of the Last Great Auks

  • Jessica E. Thomas, Gary R. Carvalho, James Haile, Michael D. Martin, Jose A. Samaniego Castruita, Jonas Niemann, Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding, Marcela Sandoval-Velasco, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Errol Fuller, Jon Fjeldså, Michael Hofreiter, John R. Stewart, M. Thomas P. Gilbert and Michael Knapp
  • Genes 2017, 8(6), 164;
  • Online versions and PDF:


There have been suggestions of a “revival” of the species by The Long Now Foundation – Revive and Restore. See the following article from The Daily Telegraph (20 August 2016 – Page 3) …


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Unity with OpenVR for Vive and Oculus via SteamVR

SteamVR-HeaderIt is straightforward to start a Virtual Reality (VR) application using Unity 5.4 for SteamVR which supports both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift head-mounted VR displays.


Follow the above tutorial to get a simple application going and test the setup. This involves downloading the SteamVR Plugin.unitypackage to your project, or to a new 3D project. You can then easily add content and an avatar/third person controller into which the [CameraRig] prefab can be placed and adjusted for position to allow for movement of the user viewpoint via the controller(s).

SteamVR Application Settings Recommendations

When the SteamVR Plugin is added to a Unity project, thee are a number of recommended settings offered…


SteamVR Example Scene

The SteamVR Plugin.unitypackage includes an example scene you can immediately open for tests.

2016-08-10-Unity-OpenVR-Example-Scene-Editor 2016-08-10-Unity-OpenVR-Example-Scene

Changing an Existing App to Use OpenVR


An existing Unity/Oculus application, such as my ISS VR Experience, can be modified by changing the camera within the third person controller/avatar to be the OpenVR/SteamVR Plugin [CameraRig]


There is an alternative documented in the “quickstart.pdf” document in the SteamVR folder after you import SteamVR Plugin.unitypackage, that is to simply add the SteamVR_Camera script to your Camera object(s). Everything else gets set up at runtime. Usually you will add the “SteamVR_Camera” script to the existing main camera in your application, and “Expand” it as documented in that guide. You can adjust the “Avatar_Camera (head)” and “Avatar_Camera (eyes)” to be where you want the viewpoint to be when you enter VR. This could be just in front of the third person controller/avatar’s head.



My testing can only be on an Oculus Rift at the moment, as I do not have a HTC Vive available. Feedback from others trying the development route out would be welcome.

Steam, SteamVR and Oculus Home are all launched automatically if they are not runnng when starting a VR app made in Unity which incorporates the SteamVR plugin.

Initial issues on my early tests was that the editor playback VR mode had the camera in a very different place to when a standalone executable build was done. And also that performance was choppy when there were many 3D objects (like the core of the ISS) were in view. The image stabilised when looking to one end of the ISS where fewer objects were in the field of view.

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Ai Austin @ 10

Ai-Austin-512x512-1x1Ai Austin is 10 years old in Second Life today (joined on 6th August 2006)…

Here are Ai’s outfits built up over the period in Second Life…


Ai’s skin was a gift back in 2006 from a fellow educator who joined Second Life on the same day and who was a neighbour on the “Saengseon” region where “AIAI2” had its first virtual world base before moving to its new facilities on the “Vue” (Virtual University of Edinburgh) regions.

Ai Austin – Standard Outfits

Ai’s usual outfit in Second Life is a Flight Suit… provided by Krashen Byrne soon after Ai originally joined Second Life. Ai obtained the original artwork for the outfit from Krashen with permission to use it as Ai wished, but not to distribute it further. You can usually find Krashen’s Flight Suit at the Flight Shop at Abbotts Aerodrome in Second Life.

Ai-Austin-Flight-Suit-522x862 Ai-Austin-Grey-Hoodie-522x862

Ai has used a range of casual outfits beyond that but his current favourite is made up of parts of “Gabriel”, one of the standard mesh outfits and starter avatars provided in the initial Inventory Library with Second Life.

In the I-Room on Vue in Second Life

2016-08-04-Ai-Austin-in-SL-I-Room 2016-08-04-Ai-Austin-in-SL-I-Room-2

Using the Oculus Rift on Vue in Second Life


Role Play in Second Life

2016-03-04-Ai-Strider-and-Orcrist Ai-tswayon-Sunset

In Supercar in Second Life


Ai Austin @ 10


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Supercar in Second Life through VR

CtrlAltStudio viewer has provided 3D/VR access for the Oculus Rift in Second Life and OpenSim.

VR Performance using Oculus Debug Tool

With “Ultra” graphics levels (including shadows) and 256m view distance, the performance is excellent and with exterior or interior viewpoints in VR mode can achieve 90FPS on an Oculus CV1 and reports 90.8FPS in the CtrlAltStudio viewer statistics bar (ctrl+shift+1).

2016-08-04-CtrlAltStudio-SL-Supercar-2D-Viewer 2016-08-04-CtrlAltStudio-SL-Supercar-90FPS
2016-08-04-CtrlAltStudio-SL-Supercar-2D-Interior 2016-08-04-CtrlAltStudio-SL-Supercar-90FPS-Interior

Test Environment

  • Dell Precision T5810 Xeon E5-1620 v2 @ 3.50GHz, 32GB memory, Windows 10 Pro
  • Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU, GeForce Driver 368.81 (14/07/2016)
  • Dell Monitor (1920×1200)
  • Oculus Rift CV1
  • Oculus App Version (

The test region in Second Life contains the Supercar (Collada) mesh model and a few platform objects with a total of 715 or equivalent land impact. More information on the Supercar mesh model is in this blog post. The original mesh has 178,595 polygons, 122,901 vertices.

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Xerox Alto

Xerox-AltoThe Xerox Alto personal computer, designed at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) and introduced in 1973, was the first computer to use a graphical user interface (GUI) using bit-mapped graphics and experimenting with the desktop metaphor. It was developed into early graphics office systems such as the Xerox Star and was a key influence on later graphical systems such as the Apple Lisa, Three Rivers PERQ and Sun Workstations.

[Xerox Alto image to right from]


ContrAlto Emulator

ContrAlto is an application created by the Living Computer Museum for modern PCs that simulates the original Xerox Alto, from the graphical display to the Ethernet interface. It allows you to experience part of the world Xerox PARC created 40 years ago. It draws on the preservation work of and the Computer History Museum.

ContrAlto-diskimage-part-1 ContrAlto-neptune
ContrAlto-calculator ContrAlto-battleships


Smalltalk was designed at the Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, Adele Goldberg and others during the 1970s.


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Halcyon MOSES Grid Testing

Halcyon-MOSES-Web-SiteHalycon is the virtual world server code base used by the InWorldz grid. The code is a branch of the OpenSimulator code, and has been contributed back to the wider OpenSimulator community (see this InWorldz blog post).

Halcyon is being tested by the MOSES Community as a potential basis for their professional and military simulation and training interests.

Entering the Halcyon Grid into the Grid List for the Firestorm Viewer

In the Firestorm Preferences > OpenSim > Grid Manager, enter the grid URI without the “https://” part on the front as that appears not to be accepted by Firestorm.


Tests on 29th July 2016


The image above (from Paul Wittermore) shows the group gathered before moving to the test regions with heavy presence of moving NPCs/bots, checkpoint and village scenery, etc. as shown below.

2016-07-29-Halycon-MOSES 2016-07-29-Halycon-MOSES-AWBIS-Region
2016-07-29-Halycon-MOSES-1 2016-07-29-Halycon-MOSES-Test-2

InWorldZ/Halcyon Information

Doug Maxwell


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Steam VR Destinations Experiment

Destinations lets you create, share and explore different worlds in VR: photogrammetry scenes, game worlds, or anything else that can be represented by a 3D model (using OBJ and FBX formats). Destinations Workshop Tools is the toolkit for creating destinations.

Guides are available here…

Tutorial Example


Launching the Destinations Workshop Tools on a 2D Monitor without VR

This forum post illustrates how to extract a Windows Run Command that will launch the Destinations Workshop Tools on a given (pre-created) project (addon)…


Steam (but not Steam VR) needs to be running before you launch this. You can navigate the scene in its preview window with the WASD or arrow keys. An example Windows Run command would be something like… (the -vr and -toolsvr parameters have been removed)…

"D:\Programs\Steam\steamapps\common\Destinations\game\bin\win64\steamtours.exe" -tools -destinations_workshop

Select your destination scene (addon) when the Asset Browser tool opens.



On 28th July 2016, valve announced that Destinations would work with multiple players and friends lists in the same environment and able to communicate via voice. So this offers a basis for “OpenVCE” and “I-Room” style destinations for group collaboration and operations centres.

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On AiLand Black Rock Region with Supercar via VorpX

As described in this blog post virtual world viewers can be used to visit Second Life and OpenSim grids and regions in VR on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive using VorpX. These are images of Gerry Anderson’s Supercar in the Black Rock laboratory on the Black Rock region on the OpenSim-based AiLand grid.

VorpX-OpenSim-AiLand-Black-Rock-Lab VorpX-OpenSim-AiLand-Supercar

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Second Life and OpenSim in VR using VorpX

While CtrlAltStudio viewer has provided 3D/VR access for the Oculus Rift in Second Life and OpenSim, there is another way to explore virtual worlds in VR – through VorpX.

VorpX allows some applications and games not specifically designed for VR headsets to work in 3D/VR mode. With virtual world viewers such as Firestorm (4.7.9 tested) and Linden Lab’s own viewer (4.0.6 tested) you can visit and view virtual world regions in an Oculus Rift (DK2 or CV1) or HTC Vive Headset. It should work with other viewers. The details below are for tests with the Oculus Rift DK2 and CV1.

VorpX costs £27.99 (UK) or the equivalent and does have a few issues (see later). Unless you want to use a specific virtual worlds viewer, you may wish to try CtrlAltStudio which is free and has better 3D geometry visuals (see “How Does This Work?” below).

Using VorpX

  1. Ensure you have a working Oculus Home setup.
  2. Install VorpX and start it up.
  3. Launch the Firestorm viewer, which should then automatically launch Oculus Home if it is not already running. The Firestorm window may just show on the 2D monitor as a white blank window. The application should be running in your Oculus headset. Dismiss the Oculus health and safety warning if need be to see the login screen.
  4. Use Shift + Mouse Scroll Wheel to zoom the 2D Firestorm windows away from or towards you so the login details and buttons are visible.
  5. Push the Middle Mouse Scroll Wheel button down to activate VorpX’s “EdgePeek” feature, which will show the whole Firestorm screen. In this mode you can gaze at menus and buttons, and push the left or right mouse button to activate things while continuing to hold the Middle Scroll Wheel button.
  6. You will then see a 2D view of your scene in 3rd person mode projected as a large virtual cinema style screen in front of you.
  7. 2016-07-28-VorpX-SecondLife-Firestorm-3rd-Person

  8. You can zoom this further away or more towards you to fill your field of view using Shift+Mouse Scroll Wheel or see it all using the Middle Scroll Wheel button to activate “EdgePeek” as described above.
  9. Enter 3D/VR view mode by moving into 1st Person/”Mouselook” mode. You can usually do that with the “m” key or using Alt + Mouse Scroll Wheel.
  10. You can change the Field of View (FOV) using Space + Mouse Scroll Wheel when in 3D/VR mode too if the image does not cover your whole field of view, as it should for a better immersive effect.
  11. VorpX recommends that the application (Firestorm) window be set to 1280×1024 for best results. You can set the window size in Firestorm via the Advanced menu (“Ctrl+Alt_D” to show it if its not present).
  12. Use the “Delete” key to enter the VorpX Settings. In the “Display Settings” you can turn on the “Direct View Mirror Window” to mirror on your normal monitor what is in the VR headset (e.g. to capture screen shots such as those shown in this blog post). The “two barrel” view or a “direct” single screen view can be selected.
  13. When you have finished using the viewer through VorpX you can terminate the VorpX application (which has an icon in the notifications area of the Windows Taskbar. This will prevent it interfering with other normal Windows applications you wish to use.

How Does This Work?

The Linden Lab Second Life viewer and third-party viewers, such as Firestorm based on the Linden Lab LGPL licensed code, use OpenGL for their 3D graphics. What appears to be happening when you are in a viewer’s 1st person/”Mouselook” mode using VorpX is that the scene is rendered around you and changes as your head set tracks round. But if you try to shift left or right you cannot see “around” objects. It is probably using the “Z-Buffer Mode (aka 2D + Depth)” of VorpX in which the 3D/Parallax effect is limited when compared to the Geometry 3D mode. This “3D Reconstruction” mode is an option in VorpX Settings (accessible using the “Delete” key) but cannot be enabled when using Firestorm since this requires DirectX 3D graphics. See this blog post for more information.

The CtrlAltStudio viewer provides full 3D geometry immersion in virtual worlds.

Issues When Using VorpX

  1. The Firestorm viewer main menus did not seem to work in some modes when pressed with the left mouse button. Use the “EdgePeek” mode by pushing the Middle Mouse Scroll Wheel button if you get stuck.
  2. I found I had to change the Field of View or “Image Size” in VorpX when moving to and fro between the 2D mode (e.g. Image Size=0.40) and the 3D/VR mode (e.g. Image Size=0.60+) which can be done using Shift + Mouse Scroll Wheel rather than needing to go into VorpX Settings each time.
  3. When using the “Direct View Mirror Window” this can severely affect performance and the 3D/VR mode view will judder and not update smoothly as you move your head around.
  4. After VorpX has been used, even if you terminate the application afterwards, there can be Windows glitches afterwards such as the mouse cursor not properly being shown. Reboot to clear things up.
  5. While using the various Shift, Alt and Ctrl keys and the mouse scroll wheel, you might find you accidentally resize the desktop icons, which is done with Ctrl + mouse scroll wheel while the desktop has focus. If so, you can restore these with a right click on your desktop, and use View > select your preferred icon size (default Medium).

Field of View (FOV)

I found I had to set a far away narrow FOV (or use “EdgePeek” when in the 2D mode to be able to see the menus for the login screen for example. But when in the 3D/VR mode and using such a narrow “far away” FOV a grey area will show within your view in the headset. This is shown in the left hand image below (with Image Size = 0.40). I needed to make the FOV be wider when in the 3D/VR view as seen I the right hand image below (with Image Size = 0.60+).

VorpX-SecondLife-Firestorm-1st-Person-FOV-0.40 VorpX-SecondLife-Firestorm-1st-Person-FOV-0.60

VorpX Virtual Cinema Mode

VorpX also provides a “Virtual Cinema Mode” via its settings. This simply shows the application on a large screen in front of you like the 2D view described above, but set in a lounge area with seats and a player figure. It is not usually what you would use for VR via a virtual world viewer.


VorpX with Linden Lab Viewer

VorpX should work with any Second Life and OpenSim viewer including the official Linden Lab viewer (4.0.6 tested)…


Remember that you have to be in 1st person/”Mouselook” mode to see the 3D effect, as shown in the right hand image below (click on the thumbnail for the larger screenshot).

2016-07-28-VorpX-LL-SecondLife-I-Room-3rd-Person 2016-07-28-VorpX-LL-SecondLife-I-Room-1st-Person

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