Oculus Rift DK2 – CtrlAltStudio Viewer Tests

David Rowe (twitter: @CtrlAltDavid) has released an early experimental version of his CtrlAltStudio Viewer for Second Life and OpenSim which can support the Oculus Rift DK2. The viewer already supported 3D stereoscopic displays for the NVidia 3D Vision (with active shutter glasses and a 120Hz+ screen) for example, and gave support for 3D input devices such as the XBox 360 for Windows controller and the Microsoft Kinect.


Due to some problems with the current Oculus Rift 0.4.1.SDK and its support for OpenGL as required for the viewer, this initial version does not implement “Direct to Rift” which will be the preferred way to drive the Rift DK2 display in due course. The DK2 is set up as a second “extended desktop” screen and in “Landscape” orientation by a method which can vary between different version of Windows and depending on whether you use the Windows “screen resolution” method or your GPU’s control panel. See the section later for more details related to the Rift display rotation (“Portrait” versus “Landscape”) and refresh rate (75Hz preferred).

Then the viewer can be launched and set with appropriate settings described in the CtrlAltStudio release notes and blog post at


The viewer must be configured to be in windowed mode (opposite to that required for the 3D stereoscopic mode), i.e., make sure Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Fullscreen mode is not ticked. And the Advanced Lighting Model must be turned on via Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Advanced Lighting Model.

The viewer is started and then the Windows key + right-arrow (twice) is used to move the viewer window onto the Rift’s display, then Ctrl+Alt+3 makes the window full screen and switches into Rift view. Ctrl-Alt+3 again to turn off 3D and full screen mode and then the Windows key + left arrow moves the display back onto the normal screen.


So, no need to be “Alone in VR Space” any longer…. see this blog post on early (solo) demo experiences with the Oculus Rift DK2.

Undersea and in Cubic Space



Oculus Rift DK2 Rotation and Refresh Rate

The CtrlAltStudio read me and Rift set up notes say to use “Landscape” mode for the Rift. But the method to achieve the correct orientation can vary. I found that in the Windows “screen resolution” control panel, the Rift display defaulted to “Portrait” labelled mode, even though the thumbnail picture showed it looked like landscape, and that was the correct orientation. The Nvidia Control Panel showed the Rift also as in Portrait mode, but there the thumbnail was 90 degrees rotated and looked like portrait.



If the Rift display looks like its rotated 90 degrees to what you expect. Change things so its in the right orientation by one method or another.

There is a recommendation to drive the Rift DK2 at 75Hz for the smoothest image. The Windows Screen Resolution “advanced settings” area did not give any refresh rate options for the Rift monitor slot – showing it as a generic pnp monitor. But the Nvidia Control Panel did show refresh rates of 75Hz (preselected), 72Hz and 60Hz.


Xbox 360 Controller Settings

The CtrlAltStudio viewer can use the “Xbox 360 Controller for Windows” game pad (Wired or wireless) as an input device, which assists in controller the avatar movement and camera control without having to fumble to find keys on the keyboard. I did find though that the current default settings for the control of avatar and camera movement were a bit sensitive, and drift continued after the sticks were released. The zone of movement of the various axes gave inputs of -1.0 to +1.0 with a central released position should be 0.0. But the controls can stick a little off the zeroed position, and I found that mine could stick at about +/-0.2. The “dead zone” adjustment to allow for this was set at 0.2, so sometimes the movement was continuing. Changing the deadzone to 0.25 fixed this, but 0.3 seems safer.

I also adjusted the sensitivity of the main X,Y and Z controls by adjusting the scale from the CtrlAltStudio provided values of 0.3 to 0.4. This means you have to move the sticks further before your avatar breaks into a run.


Others have made suggestions for suitable settings for the Xbox 360 controller, e.g. at


As noted there, “feathering” is to make your controls feel mushy, or slow. When you start or stop moving the flycam/avatar there is a delay that can either give a nice dramatic slow camera movement (when slider is to the left), or a wobbly flicker of camera (slider towards the right). I left this on the defaults provided by CtrlAltStudio.

Nvidia Program-specific Settings

For Nvidia GPU users, 3D settings can sometimes also be changed via the Nvidia Control Panel “Manage 3D Settings” tab which allows for program-specific overrides of some features.. including refresh rates in some setups… though not for my Nvidia GTX 580 or 690 GPUs.


Posted in Oculus, OpenSim, Second Life, Virtual World, VR | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mike Mercury at Black Rock Lab via 123D


Mike-Mercury-1024x1024As a test of the “Autodesk 123D Catch” app, I tested this on a small Robert Harrop figurine [SUF01] of Mike Mercury from Gerry Anderson’s Supercar. The figure was photographed from multiple directions and passed through the app to create a 3D model, which was then exported to .FBX or .OBJ formats. I converted the .OBJ model to Collada via 3D Max 2015 and uploaded that mesh to OpenSim. The single texture exported by the 123D app originally was a 4096×4096 jpeg, so to be able to upload that to OpenSim it was resized to 1024×1024. In world it could just be applied directly to the imported mesh and it registered perfectly. A bit of rotation and resizing and the mesh is as you see it in the images here.

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Improved and more uniform lighting and a few more images from a more overhead angle and some from low down looking upwards would improve the mesh, as there are some shadow 3D slid parts between the figure’s legs and there is a small hole in the to of the skull.

Mike Mercury Avatar

The 123D catch app also lets you select just part of a mesh and export that, so I tried also this with the Mike Mercury head. Once exported via .OBJ format and converted in 3DS Max 2015 to Collada .DAE format, this was uploaded to OpenSim, resized, textured and adjusted as an attachment on the “Skull” position. The eyes have to show and be animated, and the head model at present has eyes in place, so careful positioning was needed to make these work reasonably without further 3D mesh adjustment. The eyes ought to be adjusted via vertex editing to have them be sunken in to make this work better. Another free tool, the “Autodesk Meshmixer” may be able to do this. It can load the .OBJ file and texture created by 123D catch and allows for it to be manipulated, as well as then output to Collada format directly.


Adding an “Alpha layer” which hid the underlying avatar head but left the neck visible, plus adding a collar to the flight suit to hide the colour variances between the head model and an existing male avatar skin completed the appearance.

It was then possible to “clone” this appearance using the “osAgentSaveAppearance” function in OpenSim, and then use this in the seat of Supercar on the Black Rock region in OSGrid to provide a Mike Mercury pilot NPC.

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Mike Mercury Avatar Portraits

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Robert Harrop Figure (Limited Edition of 200)

Robert-Harrop-Mike-Mercury-1024x1024Hand painted ceramic resin figurine from the Supercar Supermarionation Collection. Designed and sculpted in Shropshire, England, by Robert Harrop Designs. 170mm tall. A Limited Edition of 200 figurines.

Robert Harrop’s promotional image for Mike Mercury Figure [SUF01]

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Oculus Rift DK2 – Alone in VR Space


Many reviewers and bloggers rave about the Oculus Rift and the amazing immersive feeling that the “games” and 3D “experiences” available give. After a week or two with the Oculus Rift DK2 and trying a range of the experiences and games available, usually once or twice only, I am left really very underwhelmed.

I wonder if the reviewers have a comparison point and had much experience of the last 30 to 35 years of immersive systems, caves, surround screen VR simulation centres (try landing a helicopter on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier while your colleagues all sit in the passenger seats), Rediffusion aircraft simulators (circa 1981), etc. Even the Disney sim rides (Star Tours and the like) based on those and the theme park cinema 360s offer a visual stimulation in a shared space. My brother even tottered over onto the floor in a flight sim in one 360 surround screen experience much to the amusement of the rest of the family.

It is difficult to compare favourably what is now on offer to the “VR helmet”, cockpit or tank driving seat experiences of a simulation to immerse a soldier or pilot in training linked to their colleagues across the world, trainers interacting in real time with them, and linked to other colleagues and trainers with instrumented suits in mockup villages and mixed reality spaces… including blowing out doors with low level (real) explosives!

Indeed we must even compare the experience available to that already commonly available to gamers on simple 3D screens with Nvidia 3D Vision glasses (Pro and Home versions) for flight simulation which lets you share the experience with others around you and have a laugh. A good 3D screen view onto the Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX screen where perhaps 10,000 other users are sharing the world with you and interacting through flight, tower control and other means seems to me to be a much more immersive experience than donning a helmet and going into a one person lone space.


Trying Out What’s On Offer for DK2

A list of Oculus Rift DK2 games and experiences is maintained, along with download links, at: http://www.theriftarcade.com/oculus-rift-dk2-supported-games/. A few of the ones I found interesting are:

Museum of Games 2 – a nice walk through a range of game related characters and 3D rotating models. But you are alone. Its a very quiet museum. No one to chat to about games you have played or which characters are your favourites.

Helix Coaster and Lava Inc. – riding a roller coast and very well modelled – but except for the 3D characters in the train with you, you are alone. No one to chat to and laugh with.

Ocean Rift – a nice looking scuba dive with well modelled sharks, whales and other undersea creatures. But no diving buddies to swim with.

Solar System Explorer – great graphics and fun… but its an under populated Solar System. No one else there even when I visited the International Space Station. No one at home.


Titans of Space – another good (solo) tour of the solar system and other stars (some enormous) in our galaxy.


You can walk through a forest, see nice 3D recreations of some Miyazaki anime film sets (My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away) and explore the Millennium Falcon spaceship. All on your own. Even the characters in these scenes are not interactive at the moment and not up to the level of behaviour we have come to expect in of NPCs in MMO style games and virtual worlds. A dozen other “DK2 -ready” experiences, walk throughs or “games” I tried all had the same isolating experience and really did not compare with immersive experiences I have had even a quarter of a century ago.

Awaiting the Metaverse – Not to be Alone?

Unfortunately, at the time of writing the Linden Labs Second Life and OpenSim CtrlAltStudio 3D viewers for the Oculus Rift have not yet been adapted for the DK2, so I cannot yet test those out. But I am hopeful that these will be good enough that we can get into a real multi-user large scale “Metaverse” and try the headset in an environment where it ought to come into its own. Destinations in Second Life considered suitable for testing the Oculus Rift are listed at http://secondlife.com/destinations/oculus


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Oculus Rift DK2 – Undersea, in Flight and in Space

A list of Oculus Rift DK2 games and experiences is maintained, along with download links, at: http://www.theriftarcade.com/oculus-rift-dk2-supported-games/

As tests of the Oculus DK2 there are some excellent 3D immersive environments to try…

Undersea with Ocean Rift




Image from Llyr’s VR Experiments – http://llyrie.blogspot.co.uk/

In Flight with Combat Flight Simulator



Not yet functioning in Direct Rift Mode.

In Space with Solar System Explorer/Discovering Space and Titans of Space


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Solar System Explorer had a name change to Discovering > Space… and a limited travel version was made available for demonstrations which allowed travel out to Mars… ahead of a paid release which will allow for further exploration…


Titans of Space – another good tour of the solar system and other stars (some enormous) in our galaxy…


Manoeuvre in your spacesuit around a high resolution model of the International Space Station (ISS) over Earth with high resolution NASA textures in VRSpacewalk.

You can experience a very busy Moonbase in a Gerry Anderson’s Space:1999 experience by Liam Goodison at https://share.oculusvr.com/app/space-1999-demo


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Wishlist for Next Gen Virtual World

Linden Labs has announced work has begun on a new virtual world to use recent technologies and High Fidelity created by the founder of Linden Labs, Philip Rosedale, is working on a virtual world of its own…

This post lists some of the features I hope will make their way into improving the virtual world experience over what we already have in Second Life and OpenSim.

1. Avoid Isolated Islands – Unified Single Instance Virtual Space

The value of Second Life is that it provides a single unified space all in a single instance so that users and their avatars see only that single instance at any specific time and place they visit at a specific time. There are not a number of “instances” of a place spawned to cope with user load as in some games, “dungeon” style fight areas, or Sony Home. Maintaining this unified single instance space, with adjacency and appropriate visual and travel voids between such spaces is an important design advantage.

Adopting a way to link newer and older virtual spaces to start to generate the “Metaverse” of connected virtual worlds should be an aim. Open and widely adopted standards need to be created to encourage long term population and use of such a Metaverse.

2. Avatar Identity and Names

Avatar identity and the creation of virtual personas is an important aspect of virtual worlds. These personas and identities can be closely associated with a person’s real life for educational and business uses or be completely fictional, but either way the virtual presence and the associated web and social media presence of the individual is important (See, e.g., Tate et al., 2014).

Maintenance of avatar or “usernames” across into a new virtual world ought to be possible to maintain the continuity of presence and build on the current community already created in Second Life and elsewhere.

3. Improved Procedurally Generated Flora and Terrain Features

Unity-Procedural-Flora-ExampleThe facilities to create realistic looking terrains, flora and water features need to be radically improved. The widespread use of “prims” to create trees, plants, grasses and fields of grass and wildflowers that sway in the breeze is really poor in the current Second Life.

Water should not be limited to a uniform sea level, so that lakes and ponds can be created. Deep undersea worlds should extend to realistic depths. Caves and tunnels ought to be allowed if possible.

The Unity3D Terrain Editor allows the addition of “layers” to the basic terrain features and the “painting” on of additional flora, water, rocks and feature layers could point a way to go and be easily extendable. This mechanism can also allow for varying levels of client side rendering and optimisations (or simplifications) to accommodate a very side range of current and future hardware and graphics processing facilities.

4. Migrate to the New World – Pack your Trunk

Suitcases-StackedThink of it as a big move… to a new country perhaps… new vistas, new facilities, new culture. You can’t take everything. But there are some things you just must have in the new place. You have a trunk and packing cases… they are “intelligent” and can advise what will be useful in the new place, and what will arrive there just as an “ornament” to remind you of your previous life (or lives). Mementos are valuable.

5. Travel to Other Virtual Spaces – Pack your Suitcase

clipart-suitcaseTravel is fun, but the places you visit are different. Not all the home comforts are there. But different and novel experiences can be had. You can even go back in time and visit those historical sites you heard about it the news reels, or remember from your previous life (or lives). Pack your suitcase carefully, as not all your clothing, attachments and equipment will work in the foreign country, and the regulations or limitations may kick in. Luckily your suitcase is also “intelligent” and can advise you on items you pack for specific destinations. Have a great time, but “haste ye back”.

6. Content, Content, Content, …

The strength of Second Life is its variety of content and creative materials. Tens of thousands of regions and petabytes of user generated and a growing amount of content is already available in Second Life, and indeed to a growing level in OpenSim too. This makes the “Metaverse” what it is today. A way to capitalise on that content and allow for some appropriate parts of it to be utilised should be part of the architecture and design. This is also true moving forward.

7. People, People, People, …

A big issue for any virtual world is reaching a critical mass of users and people in world and visiting locations. Sparsely populated regions can be boring, and lack of interaction with others is a main cause that people do not return to areas in Second life and OpenSim. Any new virtual world needs to gain this critical mass somehow. Drawing on the existing user base of Second Life and OpenSim would be smart.

8. A Viewer for the Metaverse

We are fortunate in having a flexible license (LGPL) viewer base today thanks to Linden Labs and the open source contributors working on third party variants and extensions. A modern viewer could perhaps be more modular with as small a core as possible, but having a key list of add-ins available.

A modern viewer would ideally be a base for traversing and viewing multiple and quite different virtual environments with an attempt to support movement between them while maintaining or correlating avatar identity across virtual worlds and social platforms. Think of supporting movement to and fro across a Metaverse of multiple technology and newly emerging virtual worlds with quite different levels of capability and facility… but having a lot in common in terms of handling 3D models, worlds and terrain, and some aspects of the avatar appearance, but certainly their common identity.

Further Information

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De Lacy Motor Club Clubhouse 50th Anniversary Events

1968-DeLacy-Member-A53-A_TateDLMC-Logo-sThe De Lacy Motor Club (D.L.M.C) in West Yorkshire was where I was a member in the late 1960s when I was first interested in motor sport, rallying, car trials, driving tests and drag racing. I had a Mini at the time and entered it in a range of events… and won a few… my main competitor at the time being my elder brother Morris, who also did driving test and car trials in his Austin Sprite. Morris later did a lot of rallying, with Jon – another brother – as his navigator. I also loved, and still love, navigating and map reading. Jon continues to be involved in rallying events and has been International Clerk of the Course & Rally Director of some of De Lacy’s English International rallies.


D.L.M.C. Trophies for Car Trial Events in 1969

1965-10-03-BDRA-Dragfest-2-Woodvale-TicketMy other club involvement in the mid 1960s through to the mid 1970s was in Drag Racing clubs and I went with elder brother Morris to see the visits of the US Drag Racing Team in 1964 and 1965 to the UK and saw them in the Drag Fest at RAF Woodvale Airdrome near Southport in Lancashire when the first 200+ m.p.h. finish from a standing start on a quarter mile run on British soil was done by Buddy Cortines. The participants included Don Garlits and Tony Nancy amongst other famous early US drag racers.


Drag-Racing-UK-Clubs BQML-Logo

I was a member of the National Sprint Association (NSA), British Hot Rod Association (BHRA) and British Drag Racing Association (BDRA). I also was involved as competition secretary and flag starter for the British Quarter Mile Association (BQMA) who ran events at Ricall Airdrome in Yorkshire. On one event at Ricall advertised for us by free Radio Caroline we had thousands of people turn up to see the drag racers. I ran a drag bike in some events, and my brother Morris who raced a go-kart also entered at one stage with that.

Seven Dales Heritage Run 2014

2014-Seven-Dale-Heritage-Run-PlateI was very pleased to catch up with the De Lacy Motor Club when they held their “Seven Dales Heritage Run” in June 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the clubhouse in Brotherton, West Yorkshire.  The “Seven Dales Rally” was the name of the regular event the club ran in the past.

A report on the 2014 Heritage Run is at

46 Years On…


Some Other Motoring Related Connections

Toyota MR2 Owner (Mk. I and Mk,. III), Thrust SSC Mach 1 Club Member and Black Rock Campaign Supporter, Bloodhound 1K Club Member

Toyota MR2 X 2   mach1log   Bloodhound-SSC-1K-Club-Logo   Morris and Jon in a Lancia on the De Lacy Heritage Run 2014

Morris and Jon in a Lancia on the De Lacy Heritage Run 2014

A Bit of History from 40 Years Ago

I was learning photography and testing out a Pentax camera with Ilford FP4 B & W film at a number of events in Yorkshire in 1973 and 1974…

Mintex Rally May 1974 Car No. 1 Roger Clark and Jim Porter in Ford Works RS2000 Reg: A00674L. Photo by: Austin Tate

Mintex Rally May 1974 Car No. 63 Dave Wilson and Jon Tate in Ford Escort. Photo by: Austin Tate

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Morris Tate in Gokart, 1973-4. Photos by Austin Tate

Austin Tate
http://atate.org – Austin’s Life Wall

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Oculus Rift DK2 Setup and Test


2014-07-30-Oculus-Rift-DK2-Config-B-LensPrior to using the Oculus Rift DK2 headset, the firmware in the delivered headset must be updated to version 2.11 using the “Oculus Configuration Utility”. This also allows “per user” profiles to be set up to fine tune use of the headset. I tried the “A” lenses with and without my spectacles and the “B” lenses without spectacles and found the “B” set gave the crispest image for me.
The Oculus Rift DK2 specifications are at http://www.oculusvr.com/dk2/

2014-07-30-Oculus-Rift-DK2-Display-ModesWhen testing the Second Life/OpenSim CtrlAltStudio Viewer and the current Linden Lab Oculus Rift Project Viewer(3.7.12 Build 292141) that were built for the Oculus Rift DK1 I did not manage to work out which display mode will allow those to operate yet. DK1 legacy mode had no effect, and various settings for display mirroring and extended desktop did not work.

Oculus Rift Headset for Second Life and OpenSimulator Avatars

In Second Life’s 1920s Berlin Oculus Rift demo region and on the OpenSimulator Conference Grid a wearable mesh Oculus Rift DK2 head set attachment is available… which if worn can be used to indicate you are in world in VR…

Visit via:


Tuscany Via Demo and Stats


Oculus Rift Headset 3D Models


Image from William Burke

The 3D models of the Oculus Rift were provided for free use by William Burke (MannyLectro) via https://developer.oculusvr.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1514 and imported to OpenSim by Michael Cerquoni (Nebadon Izumi).

Supercar in Second Life and OpenSim via Oculus Rift (Window)


Helix Rollercoaster by ArchiVision

A good quick test that is working correctly in the DK2 is the Helix rollercoaster, but get the Helix_DK2_Beta.zip version or it will not work..


Image from ArchiVision



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OSCC14 Load Test 29-Jul-2014

Load test on OpenSimulator Community Conference OSCC-1024 Conference Grid…


There is still a problem that when an avatar arrives on one of the keynote regions (e.g. keynote 1) that the floor and seats in THAT arrival region do not show, only water can be seen. Yet the adjacent regions all show their floor and seats immediately.



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Oculus Rift DK2 Arrives

After being ordered on 19th March 2014, the Oculus Rift DK2 finally arrived in Edinburgh on 29th July 2014. Testing now begins.


Image from Oculus VR, LLC SDK 0.4 Beta


Posted in Oculus, VR | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

OSCC14 Load Test 22-Jul-2014

Load test with some 200 avatars. Here is my view with three avatars logged on, two local to the conference grid and I had an additional login via a Microsoft Surface.


Ai Austin on local grid (in red -polo short) and Ai Austin from Openvue grid via Hypergrid (having lost his hair, glasses and shoes – all attachments)…


View from Microsoft Surface…


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2014-07-19 – OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 Volunteers Briefing

The OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 preparations are underway and the Volunteers Briefing took place on the conference grid “keynote 1″ region on 19th July 2014.


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Enabling the Viewer Destination Guide for OpenSim Grids

Firestorm-Viewer-Destinations-Button “Version 3″ style virtual world viewers, such as Firestorm, can provide access to a “Destination Guide” for Second Life, or the OpenSim grid you are on… so long as this feature is enabled by the grid provider.


How to Enable the Destinations Guide for OpenSim Grids

In your Robust.ini or Robust.HG.ini file [LoginService] section there is a “DestinationGuide” parameter which can be used to communicate a URL to use for the destination guide to “V3″ style viewers which enable this. Uncomment the entry and provide a suitable URL to be used…

   ; For V3 destination guide
   DestinationGuide = "http://www.hyperica.com/"

Make the content be suitable for presenting in the “in-viewer” browser, so avoid complex HTML or any viewer-side scripting. PHP should work as that is generated server-side. The viewers by default show the destination panel as a narrow strip which can be resized horizontally, but has fixed height, so you may want to tailor the display contents to that. E.g., for the Openvue grid this is how the destination guide is presented…

   ; For V3 destination guide
   DestinationGuide = "http://virtual.aiai.ed.ac.uk:8002/resources/guide.html"

You can have the user click on a link to open a teleport dialogue in the viewer by providing links on destination names or thumbnail images in this destination page which are of the form (spaces are given as spaces and not the typical URL %20 form)…

   "secondlife:///app/teleport/Region Name/128/128/22"

If you wish to show a HyperGrid destination use a form like this…

   "secondlife:///app/teleport/hg.osgrid.org:80:Wright Plaza"

Serving the Destinations Guide via the Wifi Web Interface

The Openvue destinations page at http://virtual.aiai.ed.ac.uk:8002/resources/guide.html
is actually served from the Diva “Wifi” web interface and its ability to provide “additionally served resources” for example as web pages which can pull in some parametric information from the OpenSim grid server. This is done by adding a “ServePath_BinData” entry in the [WifiService] of Robust.ini or Robust.HG.ini.

    ;; Additionally served resources
    ;; Syntax: ServePath_Name = "LocalPath, ServedPath"
    ;;         (Name is any arbitrary identifier)
    ;; With the following example, the contents of folder "resources" at the same
    ;; level as the OpenSim base "bin" folder can be accessed via path /resources
    ServePath_Resources = "../resources, /resources"
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Second Life Experiences

Linden Labs is introducing more game-like “experiences” to Second Life. This extends the previous “Linden Realms” which are now incorporated into the overall experience model. Experiences allow a region or area in Second Life to work on an avatar in a game fashion once appropriate permissions are given by the user.

A new “LR Portal Park” gives access to a hub through which various experiences can be entered… and more can be set up by region owners and found via the viewer search mechanisms.


Then a range of games and experiences can be reached, including previous Linden Realms and Second Life Premium Account regions like “The Wilderness”.


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“The Cornfields” is one of the new “Experiences” based games available via the portal, though the full experience needs an updated “project viewer” which is not currently the default downloaded viewer.

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Game or Experience related “currencies” can be obtained and used for various rewards or gifts…


Maps of some of the experiences regions include the 12 region Linden Realms and the 6 region “Wilderness”…

Linden-Realms-12-Region-Map Wilderness-6-Region-Map

More details are at:

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OpenSim Regions from the Open Source Community

The OpenSimulator community has made available a wide range of complete regions in OpenSim Archive (OAR) format that are freely available… often via the Creative Commons By Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC) use license… meaning they can be used freely, but not resold. Many of these regions have excellent reusable assets, and some even contain “stores” which make the contents, specially themed avatars, clothing and other resources available.

OpenVCE – Open Virtual Collaboration Environment

The OpenVCE.net project from AIAI at the University of Edinburgh, working with Clever Zebra and the US Army Research Labs made its collaboration region and assets available under the flexible Lesser GPL license.


2014-05-06-WhiteVue-with-OpenVCE-OAR-Midday OpenVCE Region

Linda Kellie – Assets and Regions

winter-amphitheater winter-giftshop2

Linda Kellie is a well known and prolific builder of open source assets for Second Life and OpenSim and has made available several well developed regions. An example is her “Winter” region with associated avatar, clothing and furniture store. They are widely available… but use a search engine to find the latest locations, as other developers and OpenSimulator community members often offer to host her assets and make them available for download. Sample locations in 2014 are:

http://lindakellie.com and http://zadaroo.com/

Stormhaven – Port Aurora

A very nice pirate themed region is available via the OpenSim Creations – June 2014 Challenge – “Stormhaven Port Aurora OAR”
by “jamiewright” posted on Jun 24, 2014 CC-BY-NC



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2014-07-14-Stormhaven_007 2014-07-14-Stormhaven_006

Other Virtual World Assets from the Open Source Community

There are many more resources including terrain height maps, building and object textures, avatar clothing and appearance items, scripts (Linden Scripting Language – LSL), etc.

There are many fine examples, including tutorials on how to learn from and adapt the samples given at Ferd Frederix via his Phaze Demesnes and Free LSL Scripts web sites has provided many fine open source resources, scripts, objects and avatars in Second Life and OpenSim… and is covered in a previous blog post… http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/2013/10/01/phaze-demesnes-resources-in-opensim/

The Open Creations community also creates and makes available a wide range of assets. A nice simple example if the “Balloon Generator” to create a release of coloured balloons… at http://opensim-creations.com/2013/11/20/balloon-generator/


Try also these stores and web sites which list or include free items:

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Dick Vet School on Vue

The University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (Dick Vet) has for some time had a presence in the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) regions in Second Life and has its base on the “Edinburgh East” region in the Vue areas. They have provided the open access sandbox on their region as a facility which other schools and residents in Second Life can utilise.



Brian Mather in the Dick vet and Fiona Littleton in Information Services manage the Edinburgh East area with an area called “Easter Bush”. For some time a farm and stable area has been in place with screens and other educational aids related to animal welfare. They have recently been rebuilding the main gallery and office space to have builds that look like the real life Dick Vet Campus Buildings at the Bush Estate in Edinburgh…

2014-Dick-Ver-in-RL-1 DickVetSchool-2

Some “work in progress” images are shown below…

2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-3 2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-4
2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-1 2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-2
2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-5 2014-07-11-Dick-Vet-in-SL-6

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater on Kitely Grid

Inara Pey who writes the “Living in a Modemworld” virtual worlds blog has created a beautiful model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater initially in Second Life and has now recreated her build on the OpenSimulator-based Kitely grid.


More details at

Visit using your OpenSimulator avatar via any hypergrid enabled OpenSim grid using this hop…


Fallingwater is also modelled in the OpenSimulator-based Littlefield Grid by Camryn Darkstone…


For more details see a previous post at
or visit via

hop://lfgrid.com:8002/Mill Run/23/53/30

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Initiative for Interstellar Studies – I4IS

I4IS (http://i4is.org) is now the “Initiative for Interstellar Studies”. The previous use of the term “Institute” is not an approved name for a registered company, so when I4IS was incorporated the name had to be amended.


The I4IS I-Room in Second Life also has had its logos amended..


Access to an initial trial virtual worlds collaboration facility is provided via http://openvce.net/i4is by Austin Tate to I4IS for the technical groups if it is useful to them.

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Gumball 3000 Rally 2014 in Edinburgh

Gumball3000-Logo The Gumball 3000 Rally in 2014 had a route from Miami, through Atlanta to New York and then over by air to the UK to drive though Edinburgh, Manchester and London… then onto Paris, Barcelona and then by ferry to the final destination, Ibiza.

The entry grid list is at http://www.gumball3000.com/rally/entry_grid

The cars gathered on Sunday 8th June 2014 on the Mound in Edinburgh to line up ahead of starting their UK leg. The Edinburgh crowds were out in force on a warm sunny morning to greet the teams and the Battery energy drinks kept everyone going… prior to the cars hitting the Mound…

2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Mound 2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Battery-Power

Abarth was a sponsor for the event and had a number of Abarth cars involved… including no. 1…


Are you supposed to open the Mercedes Gullwing doors while on the move. Great show…


Lots of Ferraris.. including these metallic blue no. 16 and metallic red no. 22…

Gumball-Ferrari-16 2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Ferrari-22

Nice Ford GT brought over by a US team…


In amongst the Ferraris, Maseratis, Porsches, Audis, Mercedes, Spyker, Corvettes, Dodges, a Shelby, Nissan GT-Rs, AC Cobras, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, 4X4s, …

and even a Bugatti Veyron…


Several Lamborghinis…


The US Lamborghini folks get their Scottish gift box in Edinburgh…


Gumball Biker burns some rubber on the Mound…


McLaren P1 and Brabus 6X6 by Mercedes-Benz on show too…

2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Mclaren-P1 2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-6-Wheeler-a

And what is this… looks like an Audi Le Mans race car… but its a one-off special “Rebellion 2K“…


Crash Dummies… I hope they are not used… members of one team have fun and entertain the crowds…


View up and down the Mound…

2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Mound-Up 2014-06-08-Gumball3000-Rally-Mound-Down

Ferrari car #22 waiting for the green light on Princes Street… Maybe its the new transport system for Edinburgh… I wonder if the daily Ridacard works in the Ferrari as well as on the Lothian Buses and Trams…


Some professional photos of the Gumball Rally in Edinburgh are at:

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Gerry Anderson Mesh Models on OpenSim

A range of quite detailed Gerry Anderson 3D mesh models have been used as tests of the (Collada) mesh capabilities of OpenSim and Second life. A number of blog posts have described the experimentation with these meshes and the OpenSim regions created to demonstrate them… Black Rock, Space City and Marineville.

Here is a pictorial summary of the current state of these regions.

Black Rock


Space City





As it looks in the Firestorm Viewer


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Gran Turismo 6 – Ayron Senna Tribute

A tribute to the racing career of Ayrton Senna has been included in Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation PS3.


Ayrton Senna’s DAP Racing Kart, West Surrey Racing British F3 car and Lotus 97T Formula 1 car are available in the game, along with his 1980, 1983 and 1985 driving suits by achieving specific lap times on Silverstone (Stowe), Monza and Brands Hatch circuits… locations of some of Senna’s record lap times during his career.

More details are at gran-turismo.com and gtplanet.net (3 images above from gtplanet.net).

Here are a few shots of my own 1 min. 9 seconds lap round the 1985 version of Brands Hatch to win the Lotus 97T…


GT6-Senna-Lotus-97T-1985-Gift-Car-Acquired GT6-Senna-Lotus-97T-1985-Gift-Car-Acquired-2
Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo 6

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Edinburgh Trams Are Go!

After some years of issues, the Edinburgh Trams finally began their service on 31st May 2014…


We now have Edinburgh Trams and on day 2 they were certainly busy… a lot of joy riders today I think ;-)


The trams go round corners too as we enter St. Andrews Square…


Picture taken from St. Andrews Square Virgin Lounge…


We even managed some city centre shopping at Nespresso before boarding the Airport-bound tram for the ride home…


Tickets please …


P.S. We have a Third Forth Crossing being built also… to be ready at the end of 2016… called the “Queensferry Crossing“… a three tower cable stayed bridge. The three towers are now being constructed… images taken on 31st May 2014, followed by artist’s impression of completed 21st Century bridge alongside the 20th Century Suspension Road Bridge, and 19th Century Steel Girder Rail Bridge…

IMG_2181a IMG_2179a

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Curio 3D Browser and Unity 3D VirtualWorldWeb

Curio is a 3D browser using the Unity platform to provide a multi-user online virtual world. After registering at http://virtualworldweb.com/ or http://thevww.com/ and creating an avatar (multiple personas are allowed in a single account) you can launch the browser in the “Alpha” test world provided by the developers. The aim eventually is to have a range of such worlds provided by a number of organisation which you can visit.

Alpha World

The initially provided test space for Curio and the VirtualWorldWeb is called Alpha.


Locations and Teleports

When you enter the Alpha environment you are at a central hub with a range of location teleport units around through which you can reach a variety of destinations. Walking into the teleport loads the destination world and places you there.


Weather effects such as rain, thunder and lightning are available at a location such as Rocky park.

Interaction with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) such as the Coffee Shop barrister is available to obtain objects which can animate your avatar, such as a coffee cup, and a bin to drop the empty cup in. Seats support sitting (!).

2014-05-27-Curio-14-Coffee-Shop-1 2014-05-27-Curio-14-Coffee-Sit-1

Snow and Park zones are provided, and with the “R” command you can have your avatar change from walking to running.

Various theatre and dance club areas are under development.

Social Networking

Support is already in place for test chat with URLs in the chat clickable to launch a browser. It is possible to link up with friends via a list with outstanding requests shown too. Friends have an indication of their on-line presence. Direct instant messaging messaging is supported (while users are online, offline message delivery is not yet supported).

2014-05-27-Curio-9-And-Add-Friend 2014-05-27-Curio-10-Ai-and-Be

Personal Spaces and Building Design

2014-05-27-Curio-Zabys-1 2014-05-27-Curio-Zabys-2

One home space (cabin, apartment or house) is available for each persona, and this can have various objects placed inside it and edited or adjusted. The items are available from a store (currently all free items). The editing style is very similar to Sony PlayStation Home.

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WhiteCore Version of OpenSim – Update to 0.9.2

Rowan Deppeler (@greythane) one of the core WhiteCore developers has revamped the folders used to store grid configuration, persistent databases and region sim data, and cached/temporary files and data. This is to allow for an easier and less error prone upgrade procedure.


WhiteCoreSim 0.9.2 Folder Layout Early Proposal from Rowan Deppeler

As testing for the WhiteCore development, I reused data from the “Whitevue” 0.9.1 (first release) test grid which has a Grid setup and a Sim with two regions (OpenVCE and Vue-Port) all running on a single server. The five *.db files have to go in Data/SQLite and the two *.sim region files into Data/Sim. The Config files from 0.9.1 needed very careful checking that all paths fort include files were mow pointing at the relevant new directory locations. A few attempts to get this right were needed as there are quite a lot of files involved. But after that and a few startup messages relating to scripts reloading on first startup, things seem to be working fine…


OpenVCE Region on Whitevue Grid using WhiteCoreSim 0.9.2

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Mesh Avatars

Second Life avatars early on were based on an underlying custom mesh (Poser like) with the basic body shape, skin texture, eyes and basic hair. Then a range of “layers” to add clothing and the textures could be applied to them. Plus a set of “attachments” which could be of a wide range of 3D object types to add hair, hats, spectacles, shoes and so on. These attachments could include scripting the “Linden Scripting Language” (LSL) so allow for a wide range of effects, behaviours, triggering of morphing, animations, sounds, texture changes, etc. Each avatar also can have a range of “HUD” elements that attach to the user interface the browser to give controls, meters and so on. The whole avatar as up can be saved as an “Outfit” and hence easily changed from one to another in the virtual world viewer.

“Rigged Mesh Avatars” have been used in Second Life and OpenSim for the last few years and allow replacement of the default avatars used in these virtual worlds.

Mesh avatars can be created in normal 3D modelling tools such as Studio3D Max, Maya and Blender, “rigged” with an underlying skeleton and joints, and then exported as a Collada (.dae) mesh. If this is uploaded to Second Life or OpenSim it can be “worn” along usually with a complete alpha texture layer to make the underlying base avatar shape be completely transparent. However, the shape and size of this underlying base shape is used to compute physics collisions and interaction with the ground – such as determining the level of the feet with respect to the ground.

Four good example mesh avatars, available as open source, along with tutorials to help users create them and variants are available.

SimpleBot is a Linden Labs Second Life tutorial and simple rigged mesh avatar.. useful to act as an underlying bare bones core onto which other elements can be added.


Seymour is a Linden Labs Second Life tutorial of a rigged and textured mesh avatar.


Gerrymander the Lizard rigged mesh avatar by Fred Beckhusen (SL avatar: Ferd Frederix). Tutorial for Second Life and OpenSim…


Sintel is a Blender Foundation open source movie lead character rigged mesh avatar which has been modified for use in Second Life and OpenSim by Salvatore La Bua (SL avatar: SLB Wirefly)…

Sintel Mesh Avatar

Robert the Robot – the SimpleBot simple core mesh avatar was used, textured transparent to hide that core, and a number of mesh attachment parts from a 3D Studio Max model imported via Collada (.dae) used to make the “Robert the Robot” avatar from Gerry Anderson’s Fireball XL5…


Image of “SimpleBot” upload panel from Linden Lab’s Second Life Wiki. Image of “Gerrymander the Lizard” and “Boy Next Door” avatars from Fred Frederix Gerrymander tutorial web page. “Seymour”, “Sintel” and “Robert the Robot” images by Austin Tate.

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Hypergrid Hops on OpenSim between Kitely and Openvue

HyperGrid Enabled Logo by Kitely The commercial OpenSimulator-based Kitely grid, which implements a market place for virtual worlds good such as avatar clothing and building components, today announced it has enabled the “HyperGrid” to allow teleportation of avatars between their grid and other OpenSim grids which allow hypergrid access. Kitely also proposed a logo which might be used to show that a grid was HyperGrid enabled.

Kitely Now Supports the Hypergrid, with Strong Content ProtectionsBlog Post 9-May-2014

Tests using the hop:// links between the Open Virtual University of Edinburgh (Openvue) grid and Kitely showed all is working smoothly. If a teleport fails on the first attempt just try a second time as avatar asset loading might take a while and the teleport time out on the first attempt before this stage is complete.

Test hop:// links are at http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/~ai/hg/html… for example, you can teleport from any hypergrid enabled grid to the “Kitley Welcome Center” with this hop…



Kitely implements a load on demand type arrangement to bring regions on-line when they are required. This may mean that you are temporarily located on a “Transfer” region while the world is loaded and then you are automatically teleported onwards to your intended destination. Here s an example when teleporting from the Openvue grid to the “Universal Campus” region on Kitely using



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Emoji in Web Pages

Emoji are pictograms used (typically) on cell phones, originating with the NTT DotCoMo. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji.

A table of cut and pastable emoji is available at http://getemoji.com

Emoji will only show on web pages where the underlying unicode pictograms are supported, e.g. on Apple tablets and phones, and some Android devices.


  • Rocketship: ��
  • Bear and Paws: �� ��


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BMW Vision Gran Turismo

BMW have released their “Vision Gran Turismo” concept race car in Grant Turismo (GT6) for the Sony PlayStation PS3 with all the usual BMW visual features like kidney grill, short front overhand and the rear side window feature called the “Hofmeister kink”. The car is available by completing a timed lap on the Nürburgring Gran Prix race circuit in GT6.

Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo 6

Two following gallery images from GTPlanet

bmwvgt_005 bmwvgt_012

Better stick to my Series 3 and the speed limit though!


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OpenSim Supports Deep Seas and Minus 0m Underwater Builds

OpenSim supports terrain and objects that have negative height values and are below the “normal” terrain floor level of 0m (sea level normally being set to 20m). This allows for deep sea regions and underwater builds without adjusting the region sea level from the default.


Image from OSGrid Marineville region with terrain base at -20m

BulletSim (the default) and OpenDynamics Engine (ODE) physics both support such deeper builds. Viewer support is reasonable, e.g. in Firestorm 4.6.1 with the avatar able to travel below 0m into minus territory, and building and editing builds possible at such levels. But there are some hard wired 0m lowest level areas in viewers such as editing the Z value in the edit object dialogue tool or trying to set a negative z value in the map/teleport tool. See Firestorm JIRA #13582.

It is possible to set the sea level to a custom setting per region… though its best to position such regions well away from normal sea level ones to avoid odd visual effects and sudden sea level changes as an avatar transitions between regions.


Image from OSGrid Marineville region with terrain base at -20m


Inside Justin Reeve’s underwater classroom at -18m

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Online Learning @ Edinburgh Marketing

Online learning 130 RGB-Rotated-15Right

The University today (9th May 2014) ran a workshop for those engaged in online learning course promotion within the University. A new marketing kit with graphical items and style recommendations is available…

The University values to project in promotional material are: Innovative, Influential, Excellence, Stimulating, Accessible and Global.

Posted in Distance Education, MOOC | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Edinburgh 3D Film Festival – Life in 3D Symposium 2014


Slide from invited talk by Dhanraj Vishwanath of St. Andrews University on neurology and psychology of 3D

2014-05-07-Lifein3D-Glasses-aThe Audience dons the Red/Green Glasses


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