3D Stereo Photography

Harlyn Baker, a long term colleague and friend, visited Edinburgh on 19th June 2015. Harlyn did his M.Phil at Edinburgh, supervised by Prof. Donald Michie and Dr. Harry Barrow, my own supervisors. He completed his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, advised by Prof. David Waltz. His research on the construction of 3D models from stereo and multi-camera systems has continued at SRI International and Stanford University.

While in Edinburgh we took the opportunity to capture a couple of stereo (.MPO format) images on the balconies of the Informatics Forum, overlooking the George Square gardens and Arthurs Seat.


MPO Format Stereo Files

The .MPO format images can be viewed on 3D screens via, for example the Nvideo 3D Vision screen/active shutter glasses setup (or even the demonstration red/cyan glasses). The .MPO format files are available at http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/home/bat/IMG/3D/. LiveViewRift is an example media viewer that can view .MPO files on the Oculus Rift.


Stereo Camera

Harlyn was using the Fujifilm FinePix 3D W3 Digital Camera…


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Supercar Club 2000

The Supercar Club 2000 was launched on 1st October 2000. It’s web site was at http://www.supercarclub.net is no longer active, but was created by Kez Wilson of Misc Mayhem with assistance from Austin Tate. The material is available now at http://atate.org/ga/supercarclub/ or http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/~bat/GA/supercarclub/.


A nice thank you note from a Supercar Club 2000 member included these images…


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Edinburgh AIBO Robots

aibo-logo-114x72AIAI purchased 6 Sony AIBO robots in 2004 partially via its FEEDAI Fund to use for student and experimental projects and helped supervise a number of projects with University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University students at undergraduate and masters levels. Two AIBOs went to the Institute for Perception Action and Behaviour (Edinburgh’s Robotics Institute) for their research, one to the Principal’s Office (Prof. Sir Tim O’Shea) to entertain visitors, and one to the Informatics School’s Outreach Project. Two were retained for projects and demonstrations in AIAI… Pixel (White M2) and Kilobyte (Black M2). Both these were upgraded to the final Sony AIBO software and charging station target release M3 SP2 later. When Sony completed their development of the Sony AIBO and stopped producing the robots, I obtained all the released materials and behaviours, the on-board media files and demonstrations. The AIAI robots have been fully updated with all this content, which can be selectively enabled through the AIBO-Browser tool.



Even after more than 10 years of life the Sony AIBO robots still exhibit new behaviours and are a remarkable example of robotic companions and entertainers. A new behaviour from Kilobtye was just exhibited today and that prompted this blog post.

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Sony-AIBO-Pink-Memory-Stick-16MB_Our work on the Sony AIBO robots also included using the Gostai URBI (Universal Robot Body Interface) package and API to custom program experiments on the AIBOs. Gostai in France was subsequently bought by Aldebaran Robotics who produce the Nao Robot which replaced the Sony AIBOs for the annual RoboCup competitions to measure progress on robotics team work. Programming of the Sony AIBO required use of the special “AIBO Pink Memory Stick” which replaced the normal AIBO software (purple for the M3) memory stick.

aibo-b1-160x120 aibo-w2-160x120Pixel and Kilobyte for a period created entries in their blogs to log their daily activities… a trace and examples are at

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Drawingboard in Second Life and OpenSim

Using the Media on a Prim (MOAP) capability to display web pages, including JavaScript (.js) on faces of objects in Second Life and OpenSim, a simple drawing facility can be provided.

Drawingboard – Single User Whiteboard


Drawingboard is a canvas based drawing app that you can be integrated into web pages. Each user sees only their own drawing, its not shared between different users viewing the same whiteboard on a Media on a Prim screen. The source code and examples of using the Drawingboard on web pages can be found at either:


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wPaint.js is another JavaScript based whiteboard web embeddable package. Again it is single user, each users seeing their own drawing… it is available via http://wpaint.websanova.com/

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Supercar 3D Print

At the suggestion of Chris (corlando52) we tried an experimental 3D print of the Supercar 3D Model.

The Studio 3D max model version was used and I split it into the core model with wings extended and a separate part for the canopy glass. These two parts were separately exported to .STL (Stereo Lithography) format which is an export format supported by Studio 3D Max. No resizing was done, but Chris reported that the Supercar STL model measured at about 21 inches. They were able to scale it down proportionately to fit in their 3D printer. The final size is 9″ x 5″ x 3″ and the 3D print cost is approximately US$20 to print in red and clear plastic.

Chris provided images of the main part printed in red plastic…


Some smaller scale elements had 3D print glitches, and there were some holes in parts of the model.. perhaps due to the high level of detail in the original model…

Chris reports that the canopy did not 3D print well at all. Each piece printed as a solid object, that is, the printer filled them in so they are not thin pieces but almost like odd-shaped balls. This may be because the original 3D model of the canopy perspex had a single sided face and no thickness.

Mike Mercury Figure

A test was also done of the Robert Harrup Mike Mercury figure using a 3D model created in Autodesk 123D Catch via a set of photos (see this blog post) and then converted to .STL format in 3D Studio 3D Max prior to the test 3D print.


Note: the Supercar CGI 3D models are fan produced and are not for any sort of commercial use. The 3D printed model was an experiment for personal use only of course.

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Shields Sailboat in Second Life

In Second Life, for those interested in virtual sailing, there is a free sailboat available at Three Pines Sailing Resource Center (in June 2015).. accessible via the SLURL… http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Owasco/73/208/201. I was pointed at this sailboat via a blog post by Inara Pey.

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High Fidelity – One Year In


Its now over a year since I joined in the High Fidelity (HiFi) on 15th May 2014. Here are some images of the current status at 16th June 2015…

Interface (Windows Build 2650)


Stack Manager (Windows Build 86) and Openvue Domain


Our current HiFi “Stack Manager” runs our test domain Openvue which is the HiFi registered “Place” name for the host grimsay.aiai.ed.ac.uk and which is accessible via

  • hifi://hifi.aiai.ed.ac.uk/12,1,12/0,-0.9,0,0.45
  • hifi://Openvue/12,1,12/0,-0.9,0,0.45
    (this place name was only accessible in 2015 unless renewed at US$20 per annum)

The domain has on it a number of our test meshes imported as FBX files, along with some demonstration objects and items from the HiFi Marketplace.

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HiFi Marketplace Avatars – Zack and Sintel

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Zack: https://hifi-metaverse.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/marketplace/contents/4a690585-3fa3-499e-9f8b-fd1226e561b1/e47e6898027aa40f1beb6adecc6a7db5.fst?1427170183
(or https://hifi-public.s3.amazonaws.com/marketplace/contents/4a690585-3fa3-499e-9f8b-fd1226e561b1/e47e6898027aa40f1beb6adecc6a7db5.fst?1427170183)

Sintel_v4: Not currently available (was https://hifi-public.s3.amazonaws.com/marketplace/contents/b6d2ff15-b3bf-4159-a47e-117823854ae8/8ca010a0a563091782a0034e39e2eae6.fst?1430525288)

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Getting Started in OpenSim


This blog post is to assist new users to get started quickly with the creation of a new “avatar” in OpenSimulator (also known as “OpenSim”), an open source virtual world server similar to the commercial Second Life service and accessed with the same sort of virtual world “viewer” as is used for Second Life. It also gives a quick guide to your initial login on an OpenSim “grid” and your first visit a virtual world “region” on that grid. Finally it describes how to visit other connected grids that make up the virtual world “Metaverse” via the “Hypergrid”.

1. Register for an Avatar on OSGrid

OSGrid is a grid provided by OpenSim community members and enthusiasts and often used for development testing and community meetings. It runs entirely on donations from users. It allows anyone to create a free avatar and even to attach “regions” hosted on their own servers or home computers. Create an avatar and select an avatar name at http://osgrid.org.

2. Initial Grid Login and Avatar Setup

Download and install a suitable virtual world viewer on a system that has a good graphics capability. The viewer should be OpenSim capable. The standard open source Linden Lab provided viewer incorporates a commercially licenced physics engine (Havok) which means it cannot be directly used for OpenSim access, but many third party viewers based on the same core open-source code are suitable. I recommend Firestorm… under the download tab select the variant that indicates its “For SL & Opensim”. Windows (32 bit and 64 bit), Mac and Linux versions are available.

Run the viewer, select the grid to log into as “OSGrid” and log in with the avatar name and password you created earlier. When you are logged in you normally initially arrive at an introductory or welcome region where help boards can assist you in understanding how to use the avatar and camera movement keys and do other simple operations. You can also usually select some free avatar appearances there. Don’t worry if you initially appear as a “cloud”… it just means you don’t have an initial preselected appearance. Some grids set up such a default appearance (the “Ruth” default basic avatar is common), others don’t. “Wear” one outfit and if you want you can change your appearance in the viewer.

3. Visit a Virtual World Region

When you feel ready you can go to locations on the grid you are on. Look at the map (accessible by one of the viewer buttons, hover over them to get tool tips) and type in a name of a region if you know where you wish to visit from information on the web. Or you can also type the destination region name in the top address bar in the viewer. Try visiting the “Oil Rig” region perhaps.. a rich oil rig training demonstration region…


4. Hypergrid – Roam the Metaverse

OpenSim grids can be opened up to visits by avatar from different grids using a protocol for movement and data exchange called the “Hypergid”. You can visit by typing appropriate addresses in the map tool or address bar. Find the addresses via web pages describing such destinations. Try cut and paste of this “hop” address into the address bar to visit the “AiLand” grid “Castle” region…


Hypergrid-Safari-Sign-Trans-CroppedIf you want to take a short tour or safari through some of our own demonstration regions… and pick up various avatar outfits and tools as you travel. Take a look at his blog post for some locations… convenient signs on the regions can be clicked to automatically “teleport” you to the next locations…

Hypergrid Safari visit to Openvue and AiLand

5. Going Further

There are many facilities in OpenSim, but find your feet and make sure you can do basic movememt, use the camera separate to movement of the avatar, sit down, text chat to others and even try to connect a headset for voice before you go further. Media playback on screens in OpenSim may require Quicktime or other media plugins for Flash if suitable versions are not already on your computer. Others in world, or a search on the web can give more guidance, e.g. here.

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I4IS – Kickstarter – Project Dragonfly


The first international contest, run by the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS), to let students shape the future of interstellar travel. More details at Kickstarter – Project Dragonfly – Sail to the Stars


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Oil Rig on OSGrid

The Robert Gordon University Oil and Gas Centre Oil Rig mesh-rich demonstration OpenSim Archive (OAR) by Colin Hetherington has been mounted on a region on OSGrid provided on Vue (the Virtual University of Edinburgh) servers … and an image is one of the splash screens that show on the OSGrid web site and on the viewer log in page.


It can be accessed via hop://login.osgrid.org/Oil%20Rig/122/114/42

You can also see the Oil Rig in Virtual Reality on the Oculus Rift using the CtrlAltStudio Viewer… see this blog post for more information and images.


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Game of Thrones

Okay, I have to get into this… bought the books by George R.R. Martin to make a start… more to report later…

Game of Thrones Books

Guides and Maps

Official World Map for George RR Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire

Official World Map for George RR Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire,
from Westeros to Asshai, from the Summer Isles to the blasted waste of Old Valyria

Hadrian’s Wall and the Ice Wall

George R.R. Martin has said that a visit in 1981 to Hadrian’s Wall on the Scotland-England Border inspired his creation of the “The Wall” in the Northern regions of Westeros. See this blog post – Game of Thrones writer reveals Hadrian’s Wall inspired hit TV series .

Interesting Links

Game of Thrones Style Edinburgh Animation
Game of Thrones style animation of Edinburgh and environs by Stephen Jefferies
Game of Thrones Style Animation - Edinburgh Castle

Second Life Avatar Clothing

FATEplay-Nick FATEplay-Cloak-Kollo
Ceresi Baratheon Daenerys Targaryen
FATE Play Store – Game of Thrones Style – Second Life Clothing

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HG Safari First Anniversary

Hypergrid-Safari-Sign-Trans-CroppedOn 20th May 2015, the OpenSim-based HG Safari group celebrated its first anniversary with a party on Event Plaza on OSGrid organised by Thirza Ember, Fuschia Nightfire and others. Live music with very apropriate lyrics was provided by the talented Truelie Telling and Whirli Placebo (who both often perform on the OSGrid Belfast sim).

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Robert the Robot Arrives at the Party


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40+ Up


Fully Crazy

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Comparison to Empty Stage – OSGrid Event Plaza

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HG Safari Visit to AiLand and OpenVCE

As one of its first year safaris, the HG Safari group visited the OpenSim-based Openvue and AiLand grids on 26th November 2014. More details at

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Marineville at Sunset

Stingray and Control Tower mesh models on Marineville region on OSGrid. Visit via

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Castle on OSGrid


The Castle region from AiLand has been mounted as a region on OSGrid.
[Visit via hop://login.osgrid.org:80/Castle/215/145/103]

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“Epic Castle” is a nice demonstration of a complex mesh model that can be imported into OpenSim, and saved as an OpenSim Archive (OAR) file that others can load and use. In this instance the castle was created and freely released by Epic Games to demonstrate the Unreal Engine. It was imported to OpenSim and provided as an OAR for others to enjoy by Cuteulala Artis. Leora Jacobus scaled the castle up 1.5 times to allow avatars to use doors and rooms realistically and downsized the mesh terrain to 0.7 times to fit on a single 256x256m region. Leora also added more building interiors and other contents. See the following URL for more details and links… Blog Post: OpenSim OAR – Epic Castle

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Seasons at the Castle

The Castle region has Spring/Summer, Autumn and Winter variants…


OSGrid Teleporter

The “one-click” teleporter on some Vue and experimental regions on OSGrid allows one click teleport directly to Castle, some of our other regions and the Openvue and Ailand grid welcome regions…


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Vue Regions on OSGrid


OSGrid is the primary grid used by members of the OpenSim community for development, testing, sharing content and social events. It allows those with servers to add on regions very easily and without cost. OSGrid runs entirely with volunteer effort and relies on donations from the community to meet the fees for its servers and other costs. Avatars can be created on OSGrid at no cost via http://osgrid.org. OSGrid supports the HyperGrid meaning that avatars can visit and travel to and from OSGrid from other OpenSim grids such as our main Openvue grid.

The Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) has several test and experimental regions mounted on servers in Edinburgh that are connected to OSGrid.



OSGrid Links


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View over Vue

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Here is a nice view from Ai Austin’s AIAI2 office on the second floor of the I-Room on the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) region in Second Life. Must update the calendar :-)


Here is an image of an I-Room in use for an OpenVCE experiment

And for a “Train for Success” group seminar…

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Sansara – Second Life Continent

Sansara is the name given to the original “mainland” (“continent”) land mass in Second Life. Some background is on the Second Life Wiki which includes a map naming various regions and showing their geography.

Sansara in 2015

This is how Sansara looks today. The white region in the South-West is the original Snowlands zone in Second Life.


Sansara and the Full Second Life Map


Each small block on this map of the Second Life available at http://maps.secondlife.com is a 256m X 256m region. The Sansara continent is the large land mass with the white snow zone.

Sansara Regions and Geography

The Second Life Wiki which includes a Sansara map naming various regions and showing their geography.


Maps of Second Life

A collection of historical Maps of Second Life is available at the New Kadath Lighthouse Art Gallery, New Kadath (34, 51, 22) – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/New%20Kadath/34/52/23


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High Fidelity – At the Cafe

hifi://cafe is a place where High Fidelity users are gathering to discuss developments and socialize.


Avatar Marketplace

The avatar can now be selected via the Interface -> Preferences and using the Marketplace…

HiFi-Zach HiFi-Kate

Avatar Animation

Avatar animator can be added to the default scripts by selecting File -> Running Scripts and then enabling walk.js.

Microphone Volume Control

Adjustment of microphone level can be made by adding in the Marketplace -> Scripts -> Mic Volume Adjuster.

Multiple Instance of Interface on One System and Using Profiles

In Windows, you can use the “runas” command to launch the Interface. Substitute a Windows username for ……

runas /profile /savecred /user:...... "C:\Program Files (x86)\High Fidelity\Interface\interface.exe"

If you do this with several different Windows usernames you can launch several instances of the Interface on the same system.

Meanwhile… Back at the Ranch…

Back on our own hosted domain hifi://hifi.aiai.ed.ac.uk (or hifi://Openvue to 31st December 2015 unless renewed) I am trying out a HiFi Marketplace “Floating Island” and showing our usual test meshes for Supercar, the International Space Station, etc.


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The Illusionist

A reminder about the lovely hand drawn animated film “The Illusionist” following a down-at-heels French performer and with Scotland and Edinburgh scenes.


It was produced in 2010 and directed by Sylvain Chomet. More details on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Illusionist_(2010_film). A trailer is at http://www.theillusionistmovie.com

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AltspaceVR – Meet in Virtual Space

AltspaceVR (http://altvr.com) is developing a virtual world in which people can meet, chat, share media and have fun. Interested users could register for the beta-testing events and they were invited into a beta-test weekend on 25th and 26th April 2015.

Avatar choice is quite simple, a male, female and neutral robot style avatar which can have a custom coloured badge.

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A series of events were available for the beta-test weekend…


After entering AltSpace3D, if you have an Oculus Rift attached you will see its view… if not a standard 2D view is presented. You are initially in a welcome area where a tutorial plays out on screen…

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Help on using AltspaceVR is available at https://altvr.zendesk.com/hc/en-us. AltspaceVR is mainly set to use the Oculus Rift and a Kinect motion controller or an Xbox for Windows controller at present, but can be used in 2D mode too and with mouse control. Some important keys are:

  • For 2D use, toggle between using the mouse to look round and mouse to select things using Alt+left click. You need this to select menu items, and focus the mouse to make selections or click things.
  • Alt+Enter lets you switch between Windows applications, e.g. to toggle between AltspaceVR and another Windows tool to capture images.
  • Esc brings up a dialogue to let you exit the app.

Some of the initial areas during the beta testing weekend include the Welcome Room with a tutorial, and a space to talk via voice to other users, and to click on them to link up as followers…

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A very helpful beta-tester and developer based in the Eastern USA called “Falkrons” gave me some tips and showed me some demos on a “Place” called “Desert Island”.


The 3D in world chess game is an interactive playable board with pieces that can be selected and controlled using Javascript rendering into the 3D VR space using the AltspaceVR SDK.

Spaces and Socializing

The main menu is brought up with a right click of the mouse and lets you access the web media browse, events list, and spaces list including showing how many users are in each space and the space capacity (N/M). A socialize button lets you see who is in each space and go to them, or “follow” them which adds those you meet, friends or colleagues to your followers list and allow you to see if they are online.

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Main Issues in Beta Test Weekend

  1. As this was over a weekend, I could not conveniently use my Oculus Rift and Leap Motion equipped system which is in a work location. So my testing was limited to 2D view and mouse interaction.
  2. I plugged in an Xbox for Windows controller, but only the left stick seemed to work to change my viewpoint. The right stick did not move the avatar. That might be a configuration issue, as the controller is used in things like the Second Life viewers.
  3. Voice worked very well indeed, and was 3D spatially situated.
  4. I could not see text chat anywhere, and AltspaceVR confirmed it is not (yet) included. That would be useful for when voice is inconvenient, and for sharing information via copy and paste and for web links.
  5. Mouse focus and use was very awkward… and moving between using the mouse to move the camera and having it available for interaction with screen icons via alt+left click was awkward. Moving the mouse outside the AltspaceVR window did not give me control back, I had to use the windows alt+tab to switch apps to get back to the Windows desktop.
  6. Feedback that your own voice was active by flashing the “X” icon for the AltspaceVR interaction menu was odd. I only knew that was what was flashing as a more experience user told me. An icon that looked more like a loudspeaker flashing would be more intuitive.

Testing with the Oculus Rift, Leap Motion and Xbox Controller


Following on from the beta test weekend, I tried access via the Oculus Rift DK2 working in direct mode. The 3D imagery is very crisp and menu buttons and popup panels, avatar name tags, etc are all displayed at a comfortable eye distance. I could not work out how to take a screen snapshot of the Rift “double barrel” view… but here is a shot of how the Rift equipped avatar, Ai Austin, appears when seen by another avatar. The head moves up, down and right or left depending on where your gaze is in the Rift.

The Leap Motion device is also supported… but it is assumed the device is mounted looking forwards and downwards on the Rift HMD.. Mine is flat on the table looking up and back to the user, so left and right hands are flipped/mirrored. The Leap Motion is automatically discovered by AltspaceVR and a hand or hands in its field of view show in world for the avatar. Arms are not shown for the Leap Motion, though images from other users indicate that arms are shown if a Microsoft Kinect is used for hand input.


AltspaceVR-Controller-GuideWhen using the Xbox 360 for Windows controller, the left stick controls avatar forward, back, strafe left and strafe right with turns done via the direction you are looking in the Rift. The right stick moves the cursor focal point so you can operate menus – which can be done with the “A” select button on the controller. left and right bumpers rotate the avatar.

More details are on the AltspaceVR help pages (see notes).

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Second Life – Skye Forest Cabin

I was pointed by one of Inara Pey’s blog posts to a good example of a forest cabin and furniture that are available in Second Life. This build, created by Alex Bader of Studio Skye, uses mesh and recent advanced texturing to provide a really nice looking cabin, contents and lighting. A snowy “winter coat” add on is also available. The building can be visited in Second Life at:

And is available on the Second Life marketplace at

This shows how good Second Life is looking today…

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Winter coat image from Second Life Marketplace…

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OpenVCE Presentation Systems

There are two presentations systems we have used in the Open Virtual Collaboration Environment (OpenVCE) in Second Life (and ported to OpenSim).

Clever Zebra In-world Texture Presenter


A means to display in-world slides included as textures is included within the amphitheatre on the OpenVCE region where the laptop styled presenter controls the screen(s) and contains the in-world textures to be shown. The laptop shows the current slide showing on the main screen(s) and a preview of the next slide. It provides BACK and NEXT buttons to move through the slides in turn.. and a HOME button to return to the first slide. The channel selector is there to support up to 4 simultaneous screens. Check Channel 1 is selected if you do not see the same thing on the laptop as shows on a display screen.

The Clever Zebra in-world texture presenter had a few minor glitches in the laptop controller LSL script – nothing major – and also did not have the full set of texture resources used unless you also obtained the in world objects. So I produced a full version of the virtual woreld end suitable for use in OpenSim as well as for use in Second Life. That version is at

Fixes: A script within the presenter device needs a small change to work properly. Download from

For OpenSim use the textures used in the screen and presenter need to be made available. A full set of these resources, including the modified script is available from

Usage Notes: For the example (three) screens in the OpenSim Archive (OAR) OpenVCE amphitheatre ensure that channel 1 is selected on the laptop presenter so that what you select on that shows on the screens. If the presenter is owned buy a group, ensure the avatar that uses the presenter selects that group as active.

AIAI In-world Texture Presenter

AIAI and the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) people involved in Second Life and OpenSim use also created a presenter screen that can take in-world slides put into the screen from uploaded or saved textures. Small thumbnails of the slides around the current one on show are displayed along the bottom of the screen, and can be clicked on to quickly move to the individual slide. Start and Finish of presentation quick jump buttons, Next and Previous buttons are also provided. The screen can also be set to display the parcel media URL which can contain video, web pages or something similar that can be displayed using the QuickTime display system built into Second Life and OpenSim viewers.

Clever Zebra Presentation System

There is also a more technical Clever Zebra Open Source presentation system, which can be tied to a web-based presentations management area provided as a Drupal 6.x module. The version as provided by CZ for the OpenVCE project under the LGPL licence rather than their standard GPL licence is available via:
file: drupal-6.14-module-presentation-v1.0.zip

This matches the Drupal distribution created by CZ based on the modules choices made for the OpenVCE project. This custom load with various add on modules is at:
file: drupal-6.14-openvce-distrib-v4a.zip

AIAI Presenter


The final presentation system is one created by my own colleagues here at Edinburgh and that also uses a web end based on PHP scripts set up to be used through Drupal. It supports PDF and zip presentation uploads and conversions at the web end, as well as multiple avatar presentation shows on the same screen.

But its a bit technical at the web/Drupal end, and not something I am willing to support. But we have no problem in others taking ideas in the code to use if they have the technical skill. I have already provided it to the Moodle/SLoodle community in case its helpful for their VW presenter.

Drupal module (PHP) code and in world scripts are available at
file: drupal-6.x-module-openvce-aiai-presenter.zip

SLoodle Presenter

I would also draw your attention to the Moodle/SLoodle presenter system which might have more widespread community support. Their presenter screen just supports one presentation at one time per screen though, so its not yet very flexible. As noted above, I have provided our own presentation technology into the SLoodle development community to allow for PDF uploads, conversion via ImageMagick, and appropriate serving of the converted images into the in world parcel’s media URL.

Browse on http://openvce.net/resources/downloads/ for some ideas.

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Future My Love

Edinburgh Science FestivalFuture My Love PosterThe Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) is presenting a series of events at the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival. These inspiring, future-facing events will appear under the banner:
What does a low carbon future look like?
See http://edinburghcentre.org/events/EISF2015.

The kick-off event on the evening of Friday 17th April will be a bike-powered screening of ‘Future My Love’ (http://www.futuremylove.com). The film unlocks and explores many themes relevant to future technologies and ECCI’s work more generally:

At the brink of losing the idealistic love of her life, filmmaker Maja Borg takes us on a poetic road trip through financial collapse, exploring a radically different economic and social model proposed by 99-year-old futurist Jacque Fresco, challenging collective and personal utopias in search of freedom​.

The panel includes the film’s producer, Sonja Henrici, and creative thinkers from the world of politics, journalism, science, art and technology, including Lesley Riddoch, Austin Tate, Simon Gage (Director of the Edinburgh Science Festival) and Phillip Bruner (Chair). Audience members will also be invited to participate.

Details of the event are available via:

The film has an interesting contrast between the personal anguish of the film maker, Maja Borg, and her journey to Venus in Florida as she reflects on her situation and is exposed to the forward looking thinking of Jacque Fresco who has his base there. I like the film’s portrayal of the optimism and shared social outlook of Jacque Fresco and his collaborators, though I feel that some of his social ideas are far too centralised and technocentric. I like optimistic people who look forward and not back, and who engage on a global scale to improve the world and see the positive potential of science and technology to help achieve that.

I have grown up with an interest in computers since my school days. From my early twenties, I have seen the development of the Internet and during my PhD studies in 1972 at Edinburgh I was a user of one of the very first international machines, a PDP-10, connected to the original ARPANet to allow communication and knowledge sharing [See my Blog Post on recollections of the early “net”]. The earlier ARPANet and its protocols on which the Internet is based, and the later 1990s World-Wide Web from CERN and Sir Tim Berners-Lee have been made freely available by those with the grand vision to see its potential for good. But as always there are those that do not have such a social outlook and only seek to exploit for their own interests any invention that they are given. Technology can be a force for good and help everyone, or can be misused for control and to spread fear by aggressive governments and greedy individuals or corporations.

Austin TateI am a member of the panel discussing the film with the audience after the screening, and some of my interests are in visions of the future and ways to bring them about. I am an optimist for the future, while still being deeply cynical about commercial and government activities which are risking the environment, and eroding personal freedoms and spoiling good social cohesion, and diminishing the value of the core aims of the early internet and world-wide web pioneers, and many who contributed to its development.

My own research includes Artificial Intelligence, robotics and telecommand and control of deep spacecraft. I work on planning, collaboration and team work especially for emergency response. I am exploring distributed teams connected via physical co-location and teleremote virtual reality, and especially mixed reality combinations. This strongly supports a more sustainable future where people need to travel less and can operate effectively together in spaces wherever they are and however remote they are from one another and from the devices and sensors they might use to conduct operations. Practical examples of such a vision in use are for mixed reality operations centres for emergency response on scales from local to regional to international, and for massive open online educational communities studying together on topics of interest (MOOCs). This vision also lends itself to operation of deep space robotic and human missions, and eventually to remote interstellar travel.

Wordle Interests
Key Phrases

Helpful Environment – Search and Rescue – Emergency Response – Interplanetary Spacecraft – Interstellar Starships – Virtual Worlds – Virtual Reality – Mixed Reality – Intelligent Interaction – Artificial Intelligence – Robots – Distance Education – MOOCs.

Helpful Environment Logo

Contrary to views of AI and robotics in popular SciFi films, such as “The Terminator” (see 2011 Edinburgh Film Festival Podcast), the doom-laden worries of people like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, and the actions of governments and commercial enterprises to misuse technology, I can (even with my worries) envisage a “nice” social and international community that seeks to assist and help others and that may be able to be realised in spite of the dangers. I call this vision “The Helpful Environment” – see http://openvce.net/helpful-environment

Silent Running PosterAs a side note, the 1972 Film “Silent Running” has a central plot that includes many of my interests. A future where scientists have sought to protect the environmental diversity of Earth’s natural resources by creating a protected “island” in space – on converted commercial space freighters. The featured spaceship, the “Valley Forge”, has biodomes with service robots – Huey and Dewey – looking after the spaceship and the plant life on board. SciFi and futurist novels and films give us a way to explore our own joint future and to consider the consequences of our actions.

Silent Running - Valley Forge in Celestia

Jacque Fresco - Designing the FutureJacque_Fresco‘s writings on his vision of the future also are positive about the potential of machine intelligence and robotics working alongside mankind. His book “Designing the Future” (PDF) includes the design of future cities, sea habitats and social environments and the construction machines that may be employed to build them. This is an interest I share – see my Sea City web page – which already referred to his “Venus Project“.

Austin’s roles and related interests…

Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)
Director, Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI)
Professor of Knowledge-Based Systems, University of Edinburgh
Coordinator for the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue)
Coordinator for Distance Education, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Science FestivalSenior Visiting Research Scientist, Institute of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), Florida
Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society (FBIS)
Senior Researcher, Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS)

Images from Participants

2015-04-17-Future-My-Love-Title-Screen 2015-04-17-Future-My-Love-Bike-Screening

Image of the film’s producer, Sonja Henrici, with Simon Gage, Head of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, and Austin Tate by Joshua Smythe, ECCI Social Media


Images from Virginia De, ECCI Social Media

Posted in Media | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Using vorpX for Oculus Rift with FSX

This blog post describes tests of trying to use the “vorpX” (http://vorpx.com) drivers to allow games and applications on Windows to run on the Oculus Rift to provide a 3D virtual reality experience.

Flight Simulator X (FSX) from Microsoft and recently released and updated on the Steam platform already allows for 3D via, for example, the Nvidia 3D Vision… active shutter glasses working with a 120Hz monitor and IR transmitter. vorpX should allow FSX to run with the Oculus Rift.

Setup is a bit tricky and at present (16th April 2015) I have not managed to get this working. Hence this blog post is to show the configuration while I continue to experiment and get helpful advice from the developer, Ralf Ostertag, and others in the vorpX and FSX communities.

Windows 8.1 Pro
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
FSX for Steam and/or Boxed FSX Gold (SP2+Acceleration)
Main Monitor 1920x1080x32
Oculus Rift DK2 1920x1080x32

The Oculus Rift is set up in “Extend Desktop to HMD” display mode and Windows is set to extend the desktop onto the Rift too.


The vorpX configuration utility is set to “Use system settings” so that the display can be configured in FSX itself… see below. However, I tried other modes such as “Show on Rift DK2″. vorpX is also set to run in administrator mode, as that is indicated as necessary when using the Steam version of FSX, since that also runs in administrator mode.


The FSX “Settings” -> “Customize” -> “Device” menu has two entries…

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.1

The second is assumed to be the one for the Oculus Rift DK2… but I tried both anyway. I saved the configuration, but each time I go back to the device screen it always has NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0 selected so its unclear if this is actually being saved as a setting.

The monitor and Rift DK2 are both set to 1920x1080x32 display mode. For both devices the “Preview DirectX 10″ is unticked.


After selecting an aircraft and flight situation, “Fly Now” is entered. After loading the resources the “double barrel” screen is displayed and appears to be attempting to be a 3D Rift style image. It has the vorpX watermark overlay on it, and as the Rift headset is moved it appears to be head tracking. The mouse seems to jump about to where the head set is pointing.

The only problem is that the “double barrel” screen intended to show on the Rift DK2 actually shows on the main monitor…


I have tried full screen (alt+enter), no menu and windowed modes, and tried various window + arrow keys to “move” the display over onto the Rift extended desktop… all to no avail.

I have also tried to use the boxed version of FSX with SP2/Acceleration/Gold rather than the Steam version but that behaves identically.

Update at 20-Jul-2015… FlyInside FSX

Daniel Church has produced an early version of an improved way to use FSX with the Oculus Rift called “FlyInside FSX” and a Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to improve and test that… see http://flyinside-fsx.com.

The alpha release of FlyInside FSX as at 20th July 2015 works on my Windows 8.1/Nvidia GTX680/Rift DK2 setup…


The FlyInside FSX splash screen to allow for settings changes can be configured to show or be hidden… and I chose the “\” (backslash) key for this purpose as that appears not to be used for standard FSX keyboard commands.

Posted in Oculus, VR | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Openvue Grid Teleporters

One the OpenSim-based Openvue grid main welcome and “Vue-Port” hypergrid portal regions there has been a board with a number of simple spheres that can be used to “click to directly teleport” to other regions on the grid or hypergrid hop to regions on other grids. These have now been replaced with a more visual picture board or map tile for each location.


The AiLand grid and the OSGrid Vue region Vue-Port hypergrid portal also have picture board teleporters, and an additional teleporter for Ailand experimental and demonstration regions, especially showcasing complex mesh builds, is on the Vue-Port region of the Openvue grid.

2015-04-14-Openvue-Vue-Port-Teleporter 2015-04-14-Openvue-Vue-Port-AiLand-Teleporter

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UK Approach to UAVs

UK-MoD-JDN-2-11-UK-UAV-CoverThis blog post has been created to act as a note with links to help inform the public about UAVs and encourage involvement in debate on their ethical and legal control.

A UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) publication raises issues relevant to the UK approach to UAVs, unmanned vehicle autonomy, legal, ethical and related issues. It provides a useful contribution to the public debate on these issues.

Joint Doctrine Note 2/11 (JDN 2/11), dated 30 March 2011

One section describes the value of science fiction writings and films in being one of the main forums in which such issues have been raised and in which the public can engage. Over the years, I have frequently been asked my views on the possible dangers of autonomous robots or drones for articles by the press and by school children doing their projects, I have responded to some of these question in my FAQ Web Page. The issue was also discussed by a panel following a screening of the film “The Terminator” at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2011. See [Blog Post] [Podcast]


https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33711/20110505JDN_211_UAS_v2U.pdf [Local Copy]

A House of Commons Library briefing note on UAVs citing the UK MoD JDN 2/11 was published as

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones): an introduction
Standard Note: SN06493
Last updated: 25 April 2013
Author: Louisa Brooke-Holland
Section: International Affairs and Defence

http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06493.pdf [Local Copy]

Posted in Robots | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Suters Store Slough – Supercar Window Display in 1962

Suters LogoOn February 1, 2015 James Fielding posted an article on the Gerry Anderson/Anderson Entertainment web site showing images taken at the time by a then 11-year old Philip Suter of the windows displays in his family’s Suters Store in Slough, near to where the A.P.Films studios were based. The window displays were for Supercar in 1962 and Stingray in 1965, using the actual puppets, puppet sized craft and sets.

The full set of image are shown at http://www.gerryanderson.co.uk/suters-window-displays-supercar-stingray/

The colour images of Supercar allowed for a little more customization of the Black Rock Lab model in the OpenSim-based “AiLand” grid Black Rock region. This was to change the gantry right hand light from green to clear white, and the smoke rig tube brackets from black to be the same greyish-blue as the smoke rig exit box.

2015-04-07 AiLand - Supercar at Black - Rock Lab

Supercar TV Series Frame Colourisation

The photos from Suters do indicate that the piping on the hull and the three short parallel bars on top of the clear-vu and on top of each side of the dash have a shiny gold appearance, versus the chrome finish used on our own 3D models. This is also used in the colourisation of Supercar TV series still frames by Pelham Cort (@johnxgin3), a fan fiction writer and colouriser, as shown at http://johnxgin3.weebly.com/supercar-and-fireball-xl5.html. Here are three of his recent colourisations of Supercar…

Supercar Colourized - Rescue Supercar Colourized - Icefall
Supercar Colourized - Operation Superstork Supercar Colourized Supercar and Mike Mercury

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Hyperica – Listing of Hypergrid Accessible Virtual Worlds

Hyperica is a directory of Hypergrid destinations maintained by Maria Korolov of Trombly International. Entries can be submitted via this form.

One facility Hyperica offers is a checker that grid are active… run typically once a day on an offset time cycle and displaying the sampled uptime as a percentage. A grid’s uptime can be checked using the following URL format, substituting the grid URL and region name in place of the example (spaces can be included as %20, but case depends on the Hyperica entry) …



The Openvue and AiLand grids and the Vue regions on OSGrid are listed on Hyperica:

Hyperica Destination Guide for OpenSim

Firestorm-Viewer-Destinations-ButtonThe destination guide button when used in some viewers such as Firestorm can bring up a guide to locations on any grid which provides a URL to suitably formatted HTML content. See this blog post for more information on setting up a destination guide. The following URL can be used to provide such a destination guide to Hypergrid locations:



OpenSimWorld.com is another Hypergrid destination listing site described in my blog post. Openvue and Ailand are also listed on OpenSimWorld:

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Diva Wifi on Windows

Diva Canto provides the popular “Diva Distribution (D2)” precompiled version of OpenSim which includes a number of addon modules. One of these is called “Wifi” and provides a web front-end interface to OpenSim running in “Standalone” or “Grid mode with “Robust” services.

Wifi is used, for example, as the web front end to the Openvue (Open Virtual University of Edinburgh) grid and the AiLand experimental and demo grid.

2015-04-06-Wifi-Openvue 2015-04-06-Wifi-AiLand

Wifi is documented on the OpenSim Wiki at http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Wifi through which links can be found to Diva Canto’s download and source areas on Github. Wifi serves web pages which provide services such as:

  • Account creation, optionally controlled by the administrator
  • Configurable default avatars for new accounts
  • Account updates by both users and administrator
  • Account deletion by administrator
  • Password recovery via e-mail
  • Simple user inventory management

Wifi as an OpenSim Add-in

Up to OpenSim 0.8.0, Wifi was available as an add on module via compiled .DLL libraries which could be enabled for Standalone and Grid setups. From OpenSim 0.8.1 onwards, a more flexible “add-in” library mechanism that was already in OpenSim has been improved and Wifi now is provided as an add-in under that mechanism. This does mean that the build and configuration process is different.

Diva Canto has provided a blog post which describes the new Wifi mechanism and how to build and configure it, mostly geared at Unix/Linux users.

Wifi for OpenSim Robust Grids for Windows Users

In case it is helpful to those running Robust grids under Windows, I describe here the mechanism I use to build, configure and run Wifi on our own grids.

  1. Download the OpenSim source distribution as a zip file from one of the following:

    and unzip the source code to a suitable location. Note there is a folder called “addon-modules” at the top level (same level as the “bin” directory) which only contains a README.

  2. Obtain the source of the Diva addons via

    and unzip it to a temporary area. Copy the contents of the “addon-modules” from that area into the main unzipped OpenSim directory top level addon-modules directory. Take care as there is another directory “bin/addon-modules” which is NOT the one you want to copy to.

  3. The following Diva addon modules are require for Wifi to work… the others are optional for uses beyond the Wifi interface and may be omitted…
    • 00Data
    • 00DivaInterfaces
    • 01DivaUtils
    • 1DivaOpenSimServices
    • 20WifiScriptEngine
    • 21Wifi

  4. You can now build OpenSim as usual, and the addons will also be automatically compiled. E.g., in a Command Prompt shell “cd” (change directory) to the top level of the OpenSim unzipped directory and then run “runprebuild.bat” followed by “compile.bat”. The resulting bin directory contains all you need and will have in it the addon Diva modules including Wifi.

  5. Added 2015-11-24: The latest versions of Wifi allow for extensive localisation with several provided languages and instructions on how to add further languages. A script (Unix .sh or Windows .bat) is now included in Wifi which creates a .dll file containing the resources used when the Wifi module starts up for localisation. Run it at addon-modules/21Wifi/Localization/make_languages.bat or .sh.

  6. Before you run Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe, configure Wifi for your requirements by editing bin/Wifi.ini (but see the section “Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe” below for a suggested improvement). Since Wifi.ini sets Wifi as disabled by default, you will have to explicitly enable it and change necessary information to access your OpenSim data base, set your administrator avatar name and e-mail, etc.

  7. To allow tailoring of Wifi for your own grid, a directory “WifiPages” at the same level as the “bin” directory you can place specific *.html and any image/* files which will override the default equivalents in bin/WifiPages. The following pages can be overridden:
    • footer.html
    • header.html
    • links.html
    • splash.html
    • termsofservice.html
    • welcome.html
    • image/*

Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe

With the default locations suggested in Robust.[HG.]ini.example and OpenSim.ini.example for the add-in configuration and registry locations, the addins are picked up by both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe and use the same configuration for both. This means that if Wifi is enabled in Wifi.ini it runs in both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe. This is not what is wanted for a grid and means that Wifi is served on the OpenSim default port (usually :9000) as well as the grid services port (usually :8002).

Hence, the following is the configuration used on Openvue and AiLand grids to allow for separate enabling of Wifi for Robust.exe and disabling Wifi for OpenSim.exe. Wifi.ini is MOVED from bin/Wifi.ini to config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini. These configuration settings may be useful as a basis for what others might wish to use…

-------- Robust.[HG].ini ----------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-robust"

-------- OpenSim.ini---------------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-opensim"

-------- config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini ---------
; Copied from Diva's Wifi.ini with [WifiService] Enabled = true
; and changes for your data base, admin avatar and grid environment

-------- config-addon-opensim/Wifi.ini --------
	Enabled = false

Check your Data.MySQL.dll in Robust.[HG.]ini

In configurations for Wifi before the 0.8.1 add-in, Diva.Data.MySQL.dll was used as the “StorageProvider” both within the Wifi modules and for other Robust services. This is no longer necessary. The default StorageProvider = OpenSim.Data.MySQL.dll can be used for all normal Robust.exe services as configured in Robust.[HG.]ini as Wifi itself picked up the StorageProvider separately from that stated in Wifi.ini.

Diva Distribution and Sim-on-a-Stick

The Diva Distribution (D2) and Sim-on-a-Stick are being updated to include the new Wifi addon module.


Adding Wifi into a precompiled version of OpenSim (Added 7-Mar-2016)

Notes added to assist another OpenSim grid manager add Wifi to their setup. If you try this please give feedback if you spot any errors or omissions.

If you are using a precompiled version of OpenSim to set up your grid (not a standalone) and are using MySQL as your data base then one simple way to add in Wifi would be:

  1. Obtain and unzip the precompiled version of OpenSim later than 0.8.1.
  2. Obtain and unzip the precompiled Diva D2 Distribution suited to the version of OpenSim you are using from http://metaverseink.com/Downloads.html
  3. Copy the following files from the D2 Distribution to the equivalent locations your main OpenSim directory:
    • bin/Diva.Data.dll
    • bin/Diva.Data.MySQL.dll
    • bin/Diva.Interfaces.dll
    • bin/Diva.Utils.dll
    • bin/Diva.OpenSimServices.dll
    • bin/Diva.Wifi.dll
    • bin/Diva.Wifi.pot (probably not required)
    • bin/Diva.Wifi.ScriptEngine.dll
    • bin/Wifi.ini
    • doc/Wifi.txt
  4. Customise the bin/Wifi.ini file for your environment before you first run OpenSim, including actually enabling Wifi, which is off by default.
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High Fidelity – Goes Open Alpha

On 1st April 2015, High Fidelity was opened to anyone interested in an open “early alpha” stage following the developments over the last year with a smaller group. See this invitation blog post.


I joined the High Fidelity alpha on 15th May 2014 and have since been a participant in the testing and providing inputs for the “Interface” client and for the “Stack Manager” domain server running our own domain at hifi://Openvue and testing with a range of complex mesh models.  The “Alphas Forum” has served as the main mechanism for providing feedback and getting help, as well as discussing the future of the platform. A “Metaverse Directory” lists the HiFi domains which are online and which have registered “place names”.


During this time, I have also been blogging about my experiences as the platform developed… though these posts, at the request of High Fidelity, were not made publicly accessible. This sensibly allowed High Fidelity to decide when and what to make public as the platform and its capabilities developed.

My blog posts are now publicly accessible and can all be found via:



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